Hard Painful Breast with Fat Necrosis After Lift - What to Do?

I had a breastlift 3 months ago and experienced necrosis. I lost my nipple but it has grown back with the exception of one side that has a dime size open wound. BUT the entire breast is hard and painful, the wound is being packed with gauze and sterile water/blech-its tracks 4" down and 2" to the side. My certified board plastic surgeon says it is fat necrosis. The wound leaks a yellowish liquid with horrible odor. How long do i continue this treatment or do we need to surgicaly remove this?

Doctor Answers 6

Treatment of Fat Necrosis?

Thank you for the question.

The human body has a tendency to eliminate unhealthy tissue.  It will tend to  slowly “remove” the unhealthy fat necrosis that is present. You are seeing  this occur in the form of the “yellowish liquid with horrible odor”. As long as the wound is draining the chance of an infection that can do you harm is very small.

Generally, it would be best  interest to allow as much time as possible for the body to “heal itself”. Surgical intervention may be necessary eventually. You may find that revisionary surgery may be necessary to improve the symmetry of the breasts  down the line as well.

I would suggest continued  patience  and follow-up with your plastic surgeon.

Best wishes.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,485 reviews

Breast reduction and fat necrosis

Fat necrosis, infection and wounds can occur with any surgery. And you do not always know why it happened one patient and not to another.

These wounds will usually improve more than you ever think they could and look better than you think they would. The most important thing for you to do is to keep in contact with your physician and alerted your surgeon to any new problems like fever or pain. These things can be a sign of infection and your doctor should be informed of these problems as soon as possible.

Be diligent in working with these wounds, they will improve over time and  they will heal.  And they will probably look better than you think I ever could.

Wendell Perry, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 229 reviews

It will take few months to heal

You have breast tissue necrosis and it may take few months for it heal. You may need revision of the scar. Looks like your surgeon is on the top of the problem.

Kamran Khoobehi, MD
New Orleans Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 122 reviews

Rare but documented complication

It is always stressful for both the patient and surgeon when these things happen. Although rare this sort of thing can happen to the best surgeons. This is why it is so important to find a surgeon you trust and can work with. I have done a great number of these procedures. I can only encourage you to be patient. Most of the time these things do much better when you wait before any surgical intervention. Trust your surgeon's experience.

Thomas R. Walek, MD
Providence Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Nipple loss and fat necrosis after breast lift

Unfortunately, these things happen. It's not because your surgeon is incompetent, it is just simply bad luck. I've noticed through many years of performing these procedures that it often happens to 'fatty' breasts. Fat in general does not have a good blood supply. So when you compromise its vascularity (surgery/cutting) it sometimes does not survive. This is fat necrosis. But, don't worry. Sounds like your surgeon is taking care of it. It will take a long time to heal, but it will heal.  At the end, you may need some type of revision. It's just a matter of 'wait and see' now. Best wishes. Dr. H

Gary M. Horndeski, MD
Texas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 222 reviews

Hard breast after a lift

Hardness after a breast lift with compromised blood flow to the nipple is not unusual. The Niplle necrosis is a sign of decreased blood flow that probably affected other areas of the breast. As the fat cells die they release their contents which cause an inflammation and calcification- hardness. The situation will correct itself with the treatment you are undergoing with dressing changes as administered by your surgeon. It will a little time but in the end the hardness will go away!

Morad Tavallali, MD
Vienna Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 30 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.