How Obesity Could Postpone Breast Reconstruction

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Although most mastectomy patients would understandably prefer to not wait very long to undergo reconstructive breast surgery, those who are obese may be told they need to lose weight before the procedure due to an increased risk of complications.

An ASPS study showed that women with a body mass index of 35 or greater were significantly more likely to develop post-op problems than women of a healthy weight, regardless of if the reconstruction involved implants or flaps. Almost 100% of morbidly obese patients with a BMI of at least 40 experienced complications, such as fluid buildup, infection at the reconstructive and flap donor site, and hernia.

Surgeons understand that it must be extremely difficult for a breast-cancer survivor to hear she has to wait until she sheds a significant number of pounds before qualifying for reconstruction, a procedure that many feel makes them “whole” again; but the patient must understand that overall health comes first.

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