Mammaplasty Higher Complication Rate

December 13, 2011

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Women over 50 who have undergone breast reduction surgery- also known as mammaplasty – are more likely to suffer complications following surgery, reports a study in the December issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

The researchers evaluated 1,192 women undergoing breast reduction surgery between 1999 and 2009. The study focused on assessing rates and types of complications in three different age groups: under 40, 40 to 50, and over 50.

The results suggest that women over 50 have a higher risk of developing an infection after breast reduction surgery. The infection rate was 2.7 times higher for women over 50, compared to the under-40 group. Women ages 40 to 50 also showed a non-significant trend toward an increased risk of infection.

A slightly higher rate of wound healing problems,which required an increased repeat surgery to remove areas of dead skin was also present in the over-50 group.

The increased complication rate in older women likely reflects age-related decline in hormone levels, according to the research by ASPS Member Surgeon Michele A. Shermak, MD, and colleagues of The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore.

While infections tended to be less common in women using hormone replacement therapy, the infection rate appeared higher in women who had undergone hysterectomy or oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries), due to sharp drops in their hormone levels. The researchers suggest that hormone replacement therapy is worth considering in this group of patients.

This is a first study to focus specifically on age as a risk factor for complications after breast reduction surgery. Previous studies have identified other risk factors for complications including obesity, extensive breast reduction and smoking.

Mammaplasty is one of the most commonly performed breast plastic surgery procedures. It is highly effective in relieving symptoms related to overlarge breasts, such as back, shoulder and neck pain, posture problems and bra strap compression.

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