Potential Complications of Breast Surgery

Whether you are interested in a breast reduction or augmentation, you may be concerned about the potential complications that you could face when you undergo this elective surgery. Surgery techniques and standards have never been as excellent as they are today. With the right plastic surgeon by your side, your risks during and after surgery are sure to be minimal.

That said, no surgical procedure can be considered free from the potential for complications. The more you know about what you may face after your surgery, and the better you communicate with your surgeon, the better prepared you will be to handle the postoperative recovery phase.

Common recovery side effects of surgery

According to the breast surgeon and plastic surgery professionals at, here are some common postoperative side-effects patients should be aware of. Your surgeon will provide you with great instructions so that you can know what to expect when you are home and recovering.

  • Discomfort. This can be managed with prescription pain medication for the first few days after surgery. Most find they can handle discomfort beyond that with over-the-counter medications.
  • Bruising. Bruising is quite common after any surgical procedure. It will subside after a few days.
  • Swelling. Surgery can be traumatic to the body, and often results in postoperative swelling. Surgical compression garments and ice packs can help to control both swelling and bruising.
  • Fatigue. A healing body may require a lot more rest than you anticipate needing. Listen to your body and get rest as you need it.
  • Chest tightness. Whether you’ve undergone a reduction or augmentation, chest tightness can be felt as a result of the implants or the swelling.

The worst of these common surgery side effects will typically subside after a few days of rest and healing.

More serious complications to be aware of

Some women may experience greater complications after surgery. Whether as the result of a complication during surgery or an infection, these complications can make the healing process more complicated.

Some of these complications could include the following.

  • Thick scarring that does not seem to be fading as well as it should as you heal.
  • Hardening felt in the breast tissue, which can a result of shrinking scar tissue around an implant.
  • Implant leak or rupture.
  • Infection, that may require implant removal or corrective surgery.
  • Inability to breastfeed. It’s often recommended that patients wait until after they’ve completed their family before having breast surgery.
  • Nerve damage to the nipples and breast. This damage can result in a loss of sensation and may only be temporary.
  • Blood clots may occur in some patients. It’s important to tell your surgeon if you have any health concerns that may increase your risks of a blood clot.

If you take any prescription medications or supplements, it’s important to mention it to your surgeon. Some medications and supplements can lead to complications during surgery and can also hinder the healing process.

Reducing the potential for postoperative risks

The most important thing that you can do to minimize your risks for serious postoperative complications is to follow the homecare instructions that your surgeon gives you.

Your surgeon will recommend wearing compression garments, and reducing your physical activity until you are completely healed. It can be tempting to overdo it when you start to feel less discomfort and stiffness from your surgery, however this can potentially result in an injury that’ll ultimately delay your recovery.

Avoid bathtubs, swimming pools and hot tubs until your incisions have had an opportunity to completely heal. Be sure to keep the incision sites clean. This can all help to avoid the potential for a painful infection.

If you see any signs of infection or other types of complications, it’s important that you reach out to your surgeon as soon as is possible. The earlier that you catch some of these postoperative concerns, the better your chances are for a complete and swift recovery.

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