3 months post-op Breast Reduction, I have formed a fistula and having fat necrosis drainage. When will it stop???

I had my breast reduction 7/26/16 and had some major problems with my left nipple and areola. I lost my nipple, and I have a rather deep fistula. I keep having this disgusting, smelly discharge from the fistula, and my surgeon thinks it is fat necrosis. I'm getting super discouraged because it won't heal. How long does something like this usually take to heal up? I've been packing it twice a day with strip gauze. Thanks in advance!

Doctor Answers 4

Fat necrosis after breast reduction surgery…

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 I am sorry to hear about the complications you have experienced. How long it will take to heal will depend mainly on status/size of the unhealthy underlying tissue.  If the area of fat necrosis is small, it may take a few more weeks;  for larger areas, several months of drainage may be ensue. 

The important part of this process is close follow-up with your plastic surgeon, who may able to help with judicious debridement debridement ( surgical removal of unhealthy tissue).  Whether or not surgical intervention is indicated is a clinical judgment that only he/she can make after physical examination and consideration of your progress/concerns.

Best wishes for an outcome that you will be pleased with long-term.

Wound healing

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Thank you for your question. I am sorry to hear about your post-op complication.  Rest assured, complications do happen and will improved when managed well.  While both the surgeon and patient wish these wounds healed more quickly, its not uncommon for them to take a few months to resolve.  The key for progress to to have the devitalized tissue removed and the wound treated with appropriate dressings.  You will be surprised by how amazing the human body heals and how well the wounds can appear after resolution.  Healing takes time.  The key is making sure that you are seeing progress each week.  Keep in close contact with your plastic surgeon as he/she will want to make sure your wound continues to move in the right direction. good luck

John Renucci, MD, FACS
Grand Rapids Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Breast reduction - still draining and infected after 3 months

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Thank you for asking about your breast reduction.

I am so sorry you have had such a serious complication from your surgery.

I understand your discouragement. 

Foul smelling discharge suggests continuing infection from unhealthy internal tissue.  Ask your surgeon if you need to go back to the OR for tissue debridement or need a second opinion as to what should be done. Once the tissues are clean, healthy and without any odor or drainage, it will still take several months to heal from the inside out. The tissues cannot heal if they are not healthy.

Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Persistent Wound

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I am so sorry to hear about your complications after breast reduction.  At this point it would be expeditious to return you to the OR for a definitive debridement.  This will remove any further necrotic tissue and allow you to heal. Once your wound is fully closed, you will need at least 6 months before considering reconstruction/revision. Best of luck!

Gerald Minniti, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 100 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.