Higher Risk of Complication After Breast Reduction Surgery in Women Over 50

Women seeking breast reduction surgery over the age of 50 may be at a higher risk of infection when compared to younger women, according to the latest issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Breast reduction surgery also known as reduction mammoplasty, is a procedure utilized to eliminate excess fat, tissue and skin in the breast area. It is recognized in the plastic surgery industry as one of the most commonly performed procedures in women of all ages. The most common reasons for breast reduction surgery range from cosmetic to pain management.

Often women choose to undergo breast reduction as a means of alleviating uncomfortable symptoms related to having a large chest such as shoulder, back or neck pain, poor posture and bra strap compression.

New research lead by surgeon Michele A. Shermack and colleges at the John Hopkins Medical Intuitions, Baltimore, suggests that the changes in hormone levels of women over the age of 50 may be responsible for increased surgical complications after breast reduction.

The team of researchers compiled data from 1,192 women undergoing breast reduction over the past 10 years. The patient data was then categorized into three different age groups: under 40, 40 to 50 and over 50.

According to the results, women 50 years of age and older had a higher risk of complications, especially infections, after undergoing breast reduction surgery. In comparison to women under the age of 40, the over 50 age group was 2.7 times more likely to develop an infection.

Results also suggested that the 50 and older group was most susceptible to wound healing problems, which in turn lead to higher rates of repeat surgeries in order to remove additional dead skin. While interesting, this trend was not statistically significant.

Reduced Hormone Levels May Contribute to Higher Infection Risk After Breast Reduction Surgery

Dr. Shermack and colleagues also noticed a trend towards increased infection in the 40 to 50 age group which lead them to speculate that increased rates of infection after breast reduction surgery may be the result of declining hormone levels in women over the age of 50.

In addition, women who were using hormone-replacement therapy appeared to have a decreased risk of infection, while women who previously had undergone a hysterectomy or oophorectomy (surgical removal of the ovaries) appeared to have higher risk.

The results of this study suggest that it is important for plastic surgeons to factor in age when assessing the overall surgical risk of complication following breast reduction surgery. According to Dr. Shermack, it also suggests that “”hormone replacement therapy may be worth considering in this group of patients.”

Learn about breast reduction in Portland.

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