As with any surgical
procedure, infection can occur during or after the breast reconstruction operation. Infections
can sometimes occur if
wound separation happens. It is very
important to make sure you take all of your prescribed antibiotic medication. If an infection
occurs with reconstruction with a breast implant and the area does not respond to antibiotics, the implant may have to be
removed or explanted until it is cleared up.
Signs to call your surgeon immediately:
Fever – temperature of 101 degrees
Excessive pain or redness
from the incision site
Drainage from the
incision has a greenish tint
Bad odor coming from the
Draining too steadily
All the above symptoms
are signs of an early
and if caught early enough, then sometimes all the patient might need is an
increase in antibiotics. Infections can cause a delay in wound healing as well
as prolong the recovery time for breast reconstruction
surgery. Because of the risks that are associated with an infection
with this surgery, you need to be in the best of health at the time or the
procedure to give you the very best odds.
Read more about the signs and symptoms of an infection
hematoma is a collection of blood inside a body cavity.
Read more about Hematomas
seroma is a collection of the watery portion of the blood (in this case,
around the implant or around the incision)
Read more about
Depending on the type of surgery that was
performed for the breast cancer, it is not unusual for some loss
of feeling in the breasts will happen from breast reconstruction surgery.
With a lumpectomy the entire breast is not removed, so there may still be
significant feeling left.
the patient had a lumpectomy before the reconstruction - then having
some degree of numbness in the nipples and the surrounding breast
tissue is normal. In some cases, the numbness can be
Plastic surgeons will tell
their patients to give this at least a year before diagnosing this as permanent
sensation loss, as nerve fibers grow at a very slow rate and can take months
before the feeling comes back into the breast area. Shooting pain from the
nerves and tingling during breast lift recovery is also normal. This means the
nerves are trying to regenerate, so these sensations are a good sign that the
nerves are returning to normal function.
With a mastectomy however; all the breast tissue is taken -
including the nipple/areola complex. Reconstruction on a
breast that had a mastectomy will not regain the feeling because of
all the nerves that are severed during the initial breast cancer
Breast reconstruction will restore the shape of the breast - but not
the feeling. With time however; the skin on the reconstructed
breast can become more sensitive. This will not feel the same
as the natural breast or before the mastectomy.
or tissue necrosis following breast reconstruction is a rare complication;
however there are increased risks with patients who fit a certain profile.
If a flap was made for the reconstructed breast from transplanted tissue
(abdominal area) - this could possibly break down because of an inadequate blood
supply. If this should happen, another surgery would have to take
place with the dead tissue (necrosis) being trimmed away and the chest area
Patients with increased
risks of necrosis occurring:
compromised wound healing - or wound separation
with circulatory problems
who have undergone chemotherapy or radiation
Necrosis can occur in the
following places following breast reduction:
breast incision line
If tissue necrosis occurs after breast
reduction, there is great promise with hyperbaric oxygen therapy HBOT.
Fat necrosis occurs when fat cells
lose blood flow. Fat cells are living cells and if there is no blood flow,
they may die and cause "fat necrosis". The liquefied fat cells can harden
overtime underneath the skin, causing firmness or contour irregularities. Surgical intervention might be needed to help alleviate some of the symptoms
caused by fat necrosis.
Transplanted tissue can form lumps or “fat
necrosis.” Lumps in the breast area tend to cause anxiety - especially for
the breast cancer patient. If these lumps do not go away on their own,
surgical intervention is normally performed to determine that cancer is not
"Fat necrosis is more common in larger resections. A study by Strombeck
reported a 16% incidence of fat necrosis in obese patients having resections of
more than 1000 g. However, the incidence of fat necrosis has been reported as
low as 0.8% in 371 patients undergoing an average resection of 870 grams per
breast". This problem may prompt later investigation or biopsies to
differentiate these lumps from those associated with breast cancer.
Sometimes the incisions will pull apart and cause wound
does not require additional surgery. It is treated with moist dressings or
sometimes dry. If this complications occurs, recovery time is much longer.
Read more about
Delayed Wound Healing
Post operative blood loss is normally a rare complication with breast
surgery; however, if you do get this you should seek medical help immediately. Blood transfusions may be necessary in severe cases.
Your plastic surgeon will
instruct you before the surgery to stop taking any anti-coagulants before your
surgery, and an include aspirin and aspirin containing medications, Vitamin E,
Read more about "Medications
are a risk that is associated with any type of
surgery. Any surgery that involves the use of
general anesthesia for longer than
30 minutes carries a high elevated risk of causing internal blood clots. Blood
clotting is nature’s way of controlling bleeding after an injury or an incision
is made, however; blood clots can become dangerous. When a clot forms inside a
blood vessel, it can interfere with your circulation or become lodged in an
artery inside the heart, causing a heart attack. Clots can also travel to the
brain and can become the cause of having a stroke, as well as the lung in which
it would end up being a pulmonary embolism.
At the initial consultation you will be asked to give your medical history
along with any and all medication you are taking on a regular basis. It is
this information that the surgeon will be able to ascertain whether or not you
are at an increased risk of forming blood clots following surgery.
Patients who are at
risk of forming blood
- Women who take birth control pills
- Women who take Hormone
- Women who are over the
age of 40 years
- Patients who are
- Patients with heart
- Patients who recently
have been pregnant
The timeline for developing blood clots after
surgery can vary, however the greatest risk is the first few days following
surgery, so it is important for the patient to get up and walk around as much as
Swelling in the arm (lymphedema) or a part of the
body that is caused from a build up of lymphatic fluids. It can be caused
by cancer or its treatment. Lymphedema can happen right after surgery,
especially if the breast cancer patient has had their lymph nodes removed under
the armpit area.
Watch for signs of swelling or infection
(redness, pain, heat, fever). Tell your doctor or nurse if your arm or leg is
painful or swollen.
Post Breast Therapy Pain Syndrome is very complex
with its symptoms. This complication can be defined as persistent neuropathic
pain, and is often associated with symptoms of numbness, distortion of the sense
of touch, edema, and pain that results from a stimulus to the skin located in
the chest wall, axilla, arm, or shoulder of the surgical side.
Complications at the donor sites for flap
procedures, including abdominal hernias and muscle damage or weakness.
All implants have the potential for
deflation or rupture to occur. Implants are not lifetime devices.
Read more about risks that contribute to this and why deflation/rupture
Read more about
deflation or rupture
A breast implant can shift from
its initial placement - giving the breast an unnatural appearance. If this
occurs, the patient will be able to feel the breast implant through the tissue.
Anatomical shape or tear drop shape implants are more inclined to rotate or
shift in position than a round shape breast implant.