9 Risks Associated with Breast Reconstruction

Risks Associated with Breast Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure aimed at rebuilding a breast’s shape and size following mastectomy (breast removal) or lumpectomy (partial removal). Like any surgical procedure, breast reconstruction carries certain risks and potential complications. Here are some of them:

  • Infection: This risk is common with any surgery. Signs include redness, swelling, warmth, tenderness, and pus around the incision site. In severe cases, fever and chills may also occur. Prompt treatment is vital to prevent complications like tissue damage or systemic infection.
  • Bleeding: During or after surgery, excessive bleeding can lead to hematoma—a buildup of blood under the skin causing swelling and bruising. Severe bleeding may result in hypovolemic shock, a dangerous drop in blood pressure.
  • Anesthesia risks: General anesthesia is generally safe but carries rare risks such as allergic reactions or breathing problems. Vigilant monitoring during surgery helps minimize these risks.
  • Blood clots: Immobility post-surgery can lead to blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) or lungs (pulmonary embolism). Symptoms include leg swelling or chest pain. Early mobilization and blood-thinning medications help prevent clot formation.
  • Fluid accumulation: Seroma, or fluid buildup, can occur after surgery, causing discomfort and infection risk. Drains may be placed to remove excess fluid, and compression garments may aid in drainage.
  • Poor wound healing: Various factors can hinder wound healing, leading to complications like infection or delayed closure. Proper post-operative care, including wound management and lifestyle adjustments, promotes optimal healing.
  • Changes in breast or nipple sensation: Reconstruction can alter sensation, causing numbness or hypersensitivity in the breast or nipple. Discussing expectations with the surgeon beforehand can help manage concerns.
  • Implant-related complications: Using implants poses risks like rupture, capsular contracture, or malposition. Regular monitoring and awareness of symptoms are essential for early intervention.
  • Tissue flap complications: Flap reconstruction carries the risk of flap failure, where transplanted tissue doesn’t receive enough blood supply, leading to tissue death. Immediate intervention may be needed to salvage the flap.

It’s essential to discuss these risks and any concerns you may have with your surgeon before undergoing breast reconstruction. Your surgeon can provide you with personalized information based on your medical history and specific circumstances.

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