Possible complications


As with almost all surgical procedures the most common complications after breast reconstruction are delayed wound healing and inflammation. However, the main reasons for not meeting patient’s expectations are aesthetic complications due to asymmetry and malposition of the reconstructed breast.

Early complications (occurring during or just after the procedure)

  • Bleeding and hematoma formation
  • Wound inflammation and infection
  • Tissue necrosis and delayed wound healing
  • Blood clot formation, a risk of pulmonary embolism
  • Seroma or fluid collection around the reconstructed breast
  • Anaesthesia complications

Late complications (occurring weeks or months after surgery)

  • Hypertrophic, atrophic or keloid scarring
  • Chronic, persistent pain
  • Extreme fatigue and tiredness

Implant-related complications

  • Capsular contraction
  • Rippling (visible folds of the implant)
  • Hardening of the reconstructed breast
  • Implant leakage, rupture
  • Implant rotation or malposition
  • more

Flap related complications

  • Vascular occlusion or compression and consequential flap necrosis
  • Flap hardening due to fat tissue necrosis (steatonecrosis)
  • Changes in volume and shape due to muscle denervation, body weight fluctuations, gravity
  • Complications at the donor site: an abdominal hernia, loss of muscle strength at the donor site

Fat transfer related complications

  • An uneven surface of the donor area
  • Fat embolism (vascular occlusion of vital organs caused by fatty tissue emboli)
  • Fat tissue necrosis (steatonecrosis)

Depending on the patient and technique some of the complications are quite common (up to 20 or 30% of cases), while most of them are infrequent. Most of the listed complications can also influence the reconstruction outcome and its end-result. You must be aware that additional surgical procedures might be necessary for solving those complications or their consequences. Since the list is long and it might discourage you from the reconstruction, we recommend each patient has an individual discussion with the plastic surgeon performing the reconstruction. He/She will explain the possible complications and the likelihood of them occurring.