WEDNESDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Obese women who undergo
elective breast surgery, such as a breast reduction or
reconstruction, are nearly 12 times more likely than non-obese
women to have complications following their operation, according to
a new study.
In light of their findings, Johns Hopkins researchers said that
obesity should be taken into account when assessing a patient's
After analyzing the insurance claims of about 8,000 women
undergoing elective breast surgery over the course of four years,
the researchers found that about 30 percent, or 2,400 women, were
obese. The investigators compared the procedures and the
complications of the obese women with those of the women who were
not obese. The results are published in the November issue of
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Roughly 18 percent of the obese women filed an insurance claim
covering a complication from breast surgery, compared to 2 percent
of the women who were not obese, the research showed. After taking
other contributing factors into account, the risk for complications
was 11.8 times higher for the obese women, according to a news
release from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Most notably, obese women were more than 20 times as likely to
experience inflammation as other women. The obese women were also
at greater risk for infection, pain and fluid collections (seroma
or hematoma) following their surgery, according to Dr. Catherine
Lee Chen and colleagues.
The researchers pointed out that the study did not include
procedures not covered by health insurance, such as breast
augmentation and other aesthetic plastic surgeries. They said,
however, that their findings should have implications for measuring
"While the effect of obesity on disease has been established, its impact on short-term surgical outcomes has not been quantified," Chen and colleagues pointed out in the news release. "As quality measures are increasingly applied to surgical evaluation and reimbursement, appropriate risk adjustment to account for the effect of obesity on outcomes will be essential."
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on