New Study! Obesity a Risk Factor for Breast Reconstruction Patients

One of the most important things every satisfied body contouring patient learns about liposuction is that it’s not an effective weight-loss tool. Instead, liposuction is a helping hand that makes your own weight-loss efforts more effective once you’ve committed to the changes in nutrition and lifestyle needed to maintain a healthy body. As it turns out, this approach is more than simply smart for liposuction patients, it also applies to post-mastectomy patients who undergo breast reconstruction with implants. That’s according to a new study published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, December 2013.


The Study

In the study, researchers performed a risk analysis of 14,585 female patients, 40 to 60 years of age, who underwent breast reconstruction with implants and found that obese women were at higher risk for early implant loss than non-obese patients.


Study authors John Fischer, et al. reviewed database records of women who underwent breast reconstruction with implants from 2005 to 2011 to identify those patients who experienced implant loss and compared targeted characteristics, such as smoking, age, and weight classifications, with those who did not. Based on their findings, they were able to create definable low-, intermediate-, and high-risk patient categories. Results showed that one of every 25 high-risk patients is expected to lose their implants within 30 days of placement. What’s more, the more obese a patient is, the higher her risk.


High-risk characteristics include obesity, smoking, having simultaneous mastectomy and reconstruction, and undergoing reconstruction of both breasts at once.


Improving Patient Selection

Dr. Fischer told online medical news source Oncology Nurse Advisor, "The goal of our study was really to determine which patients are at greatest risk for experiencing significant complications with their implants in the first 30 days after breast reconstruction, with the hope that it will allow practicing surgeons, including reconstructive surgeons, an opportunity to better tailor preoperative risk counseling and improve patient selection."


And patient selection is key. No one, doctor or patient, wants to commit to a surgical procedure that is at a high-risk of failure. By defining risk groups and creating a clinical risk assessment tool to help determine whether a patient falls into the low-, intermediate-, or high-risk category, this study allows doctors to more effectively choose and time the right procedures for individual female patients during this difficult period. To use the tool, surgeons score patients based on their risk factors. The total numerical score indicates risk factor.


"If a patient learns she has a high risk for complications with breast implants, she may choose to have an autologous tissue based procedure,” Dr. Fischer explained to the online news source. “The risk might not be worth it, or, on the other hand, the patient accepts the risk. Either way, the expectations are better managed and overall satisfaction is likely to be higher."


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