Lung "cut" during breast reduction!

My doctor deflated my lung during surgery but claims it's not punctured. I have a 23 hour stay. Where the tube is inserted in lung it is painful if I try to breath deep, and when I move. Doctor's I am really scared! Will have long term problems?

Doctor Answers 6


You have what is known as a pneumothorax which is treated with a chest tube. You will have a scar where the tube exits the skin but should have no other permanent problems with your lung.

Louisville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 25 reviews


A pneumothorax is certainly a rare occurrence, but fortunately for you, it sound like appropriate measures were taken. Good luck.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Lung deflation

You have what is called a pneumothorax, or air in the space between the lung and the chest cavity.  This is very uncommon in breast reduction surgery, but could have occurred during injection of local anesthetic or because of a separation between the ribs during dissection.  Either way, it is fortunate your surgeon recognized the problem and took the appropriate action.  You have a chest tube in place to re-inflate the lung, and, yes, it is very uncomfortable.  It is usually only necessary for a day or two, and once it is removed you should be good as new except for a small scar where the tube went in.  Good luck with your recovery.

Robert Stroup, Jr., MD, FACS
Cleveland Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 18 reviews


From your description it sounds like you have had an entry of some into the space between the ribs allowing air to enter the space between the long and the rib cage. Your doctor has recognized this and placed a tube to evacuate the air. Once the tube is removed, other than the scar where the puncture was placed, there should be no residual effect. Best wishes for  for the rest of your recovery.

Marc J. Salzman, MD, FACS
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Lung "cut" during breast reduction!

I am very sorry to hear about the complication you have experienced. Based on your description, it sounds like you have experienced a pneumothorax;  in this situation the lung may collapse  but is not directly punctured.  In other words, the space around the long (pleural space) was entered,  allowing air entry  around the lung itself. Based on your description, it sounds like it was diagnosed and is being treated appropriately.  Barring any other problems, you should be problem free long term. Best wishes for a speedy recovery and for an outcome that you will be pleased with long-term.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 reviews

Pneumothorax during breast reduction

Thank you for your question. Pneumothorax or collapse of the lung is unusual in breast reduction surgery. Thankfully, your surgeon recognized it and took the proper action to repair the situation. The lung itself, is not cut. The cavity around the lung was likely entered while using cautery and air entered the pleural cavity. A tube was placed to suck that air out so that the lung can properly inflate. The tube is usually left in place for a few days and checked with a chest x-ray to make sure the air outside the lung is gone. Long term, you should not have any significant problems. Good Luck,

J. Michael Morrissey, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 17 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.