Are you at more risk for infection and healing if your overweight with a breast reduction?

Are infections more common in overweight women for breast reductions?

Doctor Answers 7

Obesity Increases Surgical Complication Rates

There is good data supporting the concept that as a surgical patient's weight increases above a BMI of 28-30 the risk of complications increases. This would include any potential complication from wound healing issues to pulmonary embolism. That does not mean an operation cannot be performed safely and that a complication will definitely occur; it does mean that the risk is higher and appropriate surgical risk assessment needs to be made by the operating surgeon based on a number of factors including type and length of surgery.For the best results seek the consultation of a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. They have a website listing all the certified plastic surgeons. Members of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery will all be board certified in plastic surgery and have demonstrated an interest and special skill in cosmetic plastic surgery as well.


Nashville Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Breast reduction

 The short answer is yes. All surgeries have somewhat greater risk with obesity. Obviously your Dr. will want you in the best condition can be in for surgery. As we all know with weight situation this is not always possible. Look into the option of the Scarless reduction which is less than a one hour outpatient procedure done under sedation not general anesthesia with minimal recuperation and no incisions to open up.  Hope this helps and whatever else happens try to drop some of that weight even before this operation.

Sherwood Baxt, MD
Paramus Plastic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Postoperative complications are increased in overweight/obese patients

Thanks for your question. Breast reduction is absolutely one of the most gratifying procedures we do in that improves the cosmetic appearance while also eliminating symptoms of hypermastia. With any surgery there are risks and benefits. The BMI scale is used to compute a height/weight ratio. 25 is considered the upper normal and anything greater than that is associated with higher risk of complications. The higher you get (for example 35) the more risk of complications. Unfortunately these complications can be as minimal as delayed healing or superficial infection to large wound separation, blood clots, etc. Your surgeon will be able to tell you if your are good candidate for the procedure and if the risks/benefits are in your favor. Best of Luck!

M. Scott Haydon, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 84 reviews

The short answer is "yes"

While infection is rare with breast reduction, healing difficulties are relatively common.  This is increased in women who are overweight.  Other complications are also increased when you are overweight such blood clots in the legs; these can be serious even leading to death.While it is not crucial that you be at your ideal weight, it is best to have your weight under control before surgery.  Both losing weight and breast reduction are great goals.  Good luck on your journey.

James D. Frost, MD
Pensacola Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Complications more likely if BMI more than 30

The higher the Body Mass Index (BMI) the more likely there will be complications such as infections and would healing problems. This becomes significant at a BMI of 30. Breast reduction patients are often caught in a catch-22 in that exercise is difficult with large heavy breasts, but doing surgery in high BMI patients means greater risk, which no one wants.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Risk of infection if overweight and breast reduction.

Thank you for your question.Our research and experience say yes.  Surgery that involve removing tissue or separating tissue planes in overweight patients carries higher risk of infection and wound healing complications.  The risk increases with increasing weight.  The best strategy to minimize risk is to consult with a board certified plastic surgeon.  If overweight, make sensible diet and exercise changes to get as close to the ideal weight as possible.  This can vary but "ideal weight is considered a BMI 20-25".  Stop smoking or nicotine products.  Follow your surgeons pre and post operative instructions.  Unfortunately no procedure is without some risk of infection or wound healing issues but an experienced surgeon will be able to take care of these issues and ultimately the vast majority are considered will have no long term affect on the outcome.Best Dr. L

Andre Levesque, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

All complications

Alas, almost all complications of aesthetic surgery are more common in overweight patients. Ideally the cut off for 'safe' aesthetic surgery is a BMI of 30-32More than this and many doctors suggest that the risk profile of infections, poor wound healing, blood clots, urinary infections and generally a poor outcome is too high to justify a procedure for aesthetic reasons. For patients who find it impossible to lose weight then this doesn't mean the answer will always be no but a more frank discussion about the risk profile should form part of your pre op discussion. Hope that helps. Adam Goodwin

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.