Background: Optimal surgical outcomes are dependent on an appreciation of comorbid conditions that may handicap results. The purpose of this retrospective analysis was to delineate risk factors for complications after autologous breast reconstruction. Study Design: An institutional database was constructed of patients who underwent autologous breast reconstruction from 1998 to 2005. Variables captured included age, diabetes and smoking status, prereconstruction radiation therapy, concomitant breast resection, preoperative albumin, flap type, and body mass index (BMI; based on World Health Organization classifications: BMI > 25, overweight; > 30, obese). The primary outcome was noninfectious wound complications (NIWC), a novel classification based on the extent of tissue derangement and need for operative intervention. Secondary outcomes were wound infection, hematoma, hernia, and fat necrosis. Statistical analysis was performed using chi-square tests and multiple logistic regression. Results: The analysis included 200 flaps (transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous [TRAM] = 171; latissimus dorsi = 29) in 180 patients. There were 19 infections (9.5%), 3 total flap losses (1.5%), 14 hematomas (7%), and 11 donor-site hernias (6%). The incidences of fat necrosis and any NIWC were 18% and 36%, respectively. Mean followup was 13.1 months (range 1.1 to 51.7 months). Multiple logistic regression demonstrated that obesity (BMI > 30) is a statistically significant independent risk factor for any NIWC (hazards ratio = 6.58; 95% CI, 2.85 to 15.18; p < 0.01) and for NIWC requiring operative treatment (NIWC ≥ 3; hazard ratio = 6.23; 95% CI 2.15 to 18.05; p < 0.01). Increased BMI predicts NIWC, NIWC requiring operative intervention, and wound infection (p < 0.01). Conclusions: These data suggest that obesity is a strong predictor of simple and complex NIWC and of wound infection after autologous breast reconstruction. Obese patients should be counseled about their significantly increased risk of experiencing these unwanted outcomes.
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