Is infection possible after breast reduction surgery?

Is infection possible after breast reduction surgery?

23rd Jun 2019


Like after any other invasive procedure, you will be exposed to contracting possible infections after breast reduction surgery. It involves incisions on the breasts and excision of the excess fat and glandular tissues, besides removal of the excess skin. The procedure has an excellent record of patient safety and delivering useful results; however, it is not free of risks. Infection after the procedure may happen, mainly when you have a weak immune system and are careless during the recovery period.

Infection after breast reduction surgery can occur due to bacterial attacks at the incision site. The incisions made on the breasts basically provide a doorway for the disease to enter your body. You can avert possible infections by being careful and following the surgeon’s instructions.


Infection after breast reduction

An infection can happen after breast reduction surgery and take many forms. You will be at more risk of infection in the weeks after the operation and especially when your immune system is weak and you are careless after the procedure. A superficial infection happens when the disease is limited to the incisions. This type of disease is not severe and can be coped with by using oral antibiotics.

On the other hand, a deep tissue infection can also occur. This type of infection is not limited to the incision but goes deep into the underlying tissues. The deep tissue infection can affect different tissues in the breasts, such as the breast muscle and the glandular tissues. If not treated, this infection can be life-threatening and lead to many health complications. To treat this infection, the patient must get IV antibiotics or even undergo a treatment surgery whereby the doctor will disinfect the tissues that have been infected.

Signs of infection after breast reduction

When an infection happens after breast reduction surgery, you can diagnose it from the many signs it leaves behind. The affected area in the breast will appear reddish, and you may even have a fever. When an infection happens, it often makes the recovery process longer. Moreover, your breasts will appear swollen, and even pus may be discharged at the site of the incision when an infection occurs.

Many patients are curious as to how they can diagnose whether an infection has occurred after breast reduction surgery. First off, you should look for signs of pus discharge at the incision site. If pus is being discharged, it is an indication of a possible infection. To validate whether an infection is present in your breast, your surgeon may advise you to get a sample of the pus discharged from your body for laboratory examination.

Furthermore, if the surgical incision on the breast has split open, it is a sign of an infection. Moreover, a rise in your body temperature, vomiting, exhaustion, sickness, and excessive swelling are other signs of infection. Depending on what symptoms are present, the plastic surgeon may ask you to get an X-ray so that the infection and its type can be detected.

Why is deep tissue infection dangerous?

Even though there are different types of infections that may happen after breast reduction surgery, deep tissue infection is considered to be dangerous and severe. Deep tissue infection can happen within the first months of the procedure. In rare cases, it may also occur 30 days following the procedure.

To understand why deep tissue infection is dangerous, you should be able to differentiate between superficial infection and deep tissue infection. Superficial infection is limited to the skin or the incision. It is not life-threatening because it can be treated with oral antibiotics. On the other hand, deep tissue infection affects different tissues inside your breasts, and it is not possible to be treated with oral antibiotics. The disease can keep spreading to different areas of your body and make you sick. If it is not treated immediately, the risks can be life-threatening.  

If the infection is superficial, it can be quickly diagnosed by looking at the affected area. If the symptoms are present, then you likely have a superficial infection. But a deep tissue infection can present other symptoms as well. For example, you may start to vomit and feel extremely sick when such an infection happens. It can also trigger severe pain and discomfort in the breasts that do not alleviate with the passage of time but increases instead.


Who is more at risk of infection?

Any patient who gets breast reduction surgery is exposed to the risk of infection, but some people are more susceptible to contracting them. For instance, a patient who has vascular issues or severe diabetes is more at risk of disease than a healthy person who does not suffer from these illnesses.   

If you are a smoker or have been taking immune suppressants, then your risk of infection will be higher because smoking and the use of immune suppressants make your immune system weaker, which means it lacks enough strength to fight against foreign agents like bacteria. Therefore, it is essential that you stop any immune-suppressing medicines and smoking before the surgery and avoid them after the surgery.

The surgery time also determines the risk of infections. If the surgery takes more time, the risk of infection will increase. The surgery time can increase for different reasons; however, if your surgeon is experienced, the surgery time can be reduced, which in turn will decrease the risk of infection.

The recovery period also plays a vital role in defining the risk of infection that you can be exposed to. If the patient is careless during the recovery, it can lead to infection of the breasts. For example, if you do physical activities and the incisions split open, infections may soon make their way into your body through the incisions. Also, if you touch the incisions, it will increase your risk of infection.

Infection after breast reduction is more likely to happen if your surgeon is inexperienced. An inexperienced surgeon may commit surgical errors that can lead to infections. There are also many illegal and fake practitioners that are posing as plastic surgeons and performing breast reduction. You must avoid such practitioners and instead go for a board-certified plastic surgeon with experience in breast reduction. Doing so will go a long way toward reducing the risk of infection after breast reduction surgery.

Causes of infection

Many factors can lead to infection after breast reduction. The common ones include:

–    Bacteria present on your skin or inside your body

–    A weak immune system

–    Not using the antibiotics prescribed by the plastic surgeon

–    Being overweight or obese

–    Smoking and the use of certain medicines like steroids

–    Touching the incisions or letting other unauthorized people touch them

–    Severe diabetes and vascular disease

–    Bacteria present in the air that can enter your body during or after the surgery through the incisions

–    Surgical errors and poor choice of plastic surgeon

–    Operation that takes more time

–    Presence of bacteria on the surgical tools

How to reduce the risk of infection

Infection after breast reduction surgery can make things complicated. So, it is better to follow specific precautionary measures in the first place to avoid contamination. To start with, you must select your plastic surgeon carefully. Be sure to choose only a board-certified plastic surgeon. On the day of the operation, go for the surgery after washing your breasts with antibacterial soap and taking a shower.

Also, share your complete health history with the plastic surgeon and if you have a weaker immune system, diabetes, or other health problems, be sure to tell it to the surgeon. You can also ask the surgeon as to what you can do to reduce the risk of infection after surgery. During the recovery period, never touch the incisions and never let anybody else touch it, except for the authorized medical staff at the surgical facility or hospital. If the doctor has told you to take antibiotics before and/or after the surgery, you must follow this instruction to the letter.



Breast reduction surgery has an excellent record of safety and better outcomes. Despite this, we cannot say that the procedure is entirely safe. One of the problems that can happen after the procedure is an infection. When an infection occurs, it can lead to many health problems and present several uncomfortable symptoms. The risk of disease is present after breast reduction because the operation is invasive and involves tampering with your tissues. In this article, I have explained why an infection happens after the procedure, who is more at risk of the infection, what types of infection may occur, what are the primary causes of infection, and what can you do to prevent possible infections after your breast reduction procedure.


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