Have I been burned by accident during surgery? (Photos)

I had breast augmentation 3 weeks ago. When I removed the dressing 24 hours later I discovered a wound that was not part of the insicion but was covered. The surgeon says he has no idea what it is and how it got there! It looks like when I had a mole removed in the past. It is only healing slowly and will most likely scar. How could this have happened and how can I approach the surgeon. Thank you for your help

Doctor Answers 8

Breast augmentation

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Thank you for your question and photographs.I am sorry to hear about your wound. I would wait until about 4 weeks after the scab has come off to begin scar treatment. I usually recommend silicone strips to my patients for scar treatment along with laser treatments to further reduce the appearance of the scar. Best of luck.
Sincerely, James Fernau, MD, FACS
Board Certified ENT
Board Certified Plastic Surgery
Member of ASPS, ASAPS, ISAPS, The Rhinoplasty Society, AAFPRS, OTO/HNS, ASLMS, International Federation for Adipose Therapeutics & Science

Pittsburgh Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Breast augmentation - was I burned during surgery?

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Thank you for asking about your breast augmentation.
  • Only your surgeon and the nurses in the operating room know what caused the damage to your skin.
  • The most likely cause is a skin burn from the tip of the cautery being placed on the skin by accident.
  • It may heal leaving a minimal scar or may need revision six months after it heals.
  • But your surgeon should certainly tell you what happened.
  • Ask him politely, tell him what you found under your dressing and that you want to know what it is.  
  • If he continues to deny knowledge of it, there is little you can do -
  • But it suggests he is too weak to be honest with you.
  • These things happen occasionally despite great care being taken
  • Most surgeons are strong and honest enough to tell their patients the truth. 
  • Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Surgical burn?

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Whatever the cause of this wound you should feel comfortable discussing the best resolution with your surgeon. I'd guess that most surgeons would feel very badly about such an occurrence even if nothing seemed to go wrong during the surgery and offer to take care of it to the best of their ability. I would probably recommend an early revision to completely remove this crusted area and close it with the most perfect sutures possible so that the final scar is no more conspicuous than the incision used to place the implant. If this is a burn from inside the pocket I would be concerned that the implant would become exposed without an early revision.

Wound discovered after Breast Augmentation......

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Looks like a burn, but there is no way to know for sure after the fact.   No matter what caused it, the main thing is to treat it to get the best scar possible.   It will be a scar, but should be pretty minimal.   Talk with your surgeon.  

Cautery Burn?

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None of us can say what this is from. We weren't there. It could be, it might not be. The important thing is to treat it well for the best opportunity for the best long term result. Unless you keloid or form hypertrophic scar, I suspect this will be inconspicuous in the long term.Every surgeon is different in how they respond to questions about complications. It has been pretty clearly shown that honesty is the best policy. Simply ask her/him if a cautery burn is one possibility. It can happen for a variety of reasons. Whatever the cause, it is essentially an extension of your existing scar and is likely to do well.


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Miss Steph,
Sorry you are dealing with the unintended sequelae.  It is very rare to get a burn either from the fiberoptic instrument or cautery.  More commonly the surgical garment and aggravate an area and cause skin damage (more commonly with liposuctions).  The wound will gradually close in from the sides and base.  It will remain red for months then pink and usually fades over a year to an inconspicuous mark.  Whatever the cause, the good news is it will heal well (as long as it does not get infected).  Talk to your surgeon on how to treat it now that it is present.  The exact cause may never be know.
Best of luck.
Dr. T

Douglas Taranow, DO, FACOS
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

Hard to be sure.

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your question is a good one. From your story and photographs auburn from the cautery or fiber optic retractor seems to be to most likely explanation although those will usuall be very small and superficial if they indeed occur, which should be very rare. You have what appears to be dry gangrene and I recommend treating this with Silvadene cream to help avoid an infection. Surgery to remove the dead tissue and repair with stitches is another option. 
Please discuss this with your plastic surgeon, but do not ignore it. Best of luck.

Ram Kalus, MD
Mount Pleasant Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Wound after surgery

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Thank you for your question.Keep the area clean and dry, to make sure it does not get infected. It may have been from the garment rubbing after surgery or putting too much pressure in that area as well. When you see your surgeon in person, I would recommend addressing it with them again to know for sure what exactly it could of been. Good luck with healing.

Francis Johns, MD
Greensburg Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 83 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.