Dr. Nancy Van Laeken M.D., F.R.C.S.C.



Potential Complication Definitions


Hematoma – is an accumulation of blood trapped below the incision. It is the most common and most troublesome complication. If the hematoma is very large, it may require another operation to open the wound to remove blood and stop bleeding. If a hematoma is left untreated, it can enlarge to cause death of the nipple plus other skin areas because it interferes with their blood supply. It can also cause abnormal scarring.

Nipple Loss – means that the nipple in its new location has inadequate blood supply and the area may blister and a small portion of the nipple may be lost over the ensuing several weeks. If this occurs it can be repaired by corrective surgery, which often involves skin grafting. This is an extremely unusual complication but it can occur and it is particularly possible in a situation where the nipples were positioned well below the breast mound so that manipulation and the location involved movement of more than 15cm upwards.

Skin Slough – Usually any area of skin slough (death of tissue) is limited to lcm or less in size and occurs along the incision. These heal by themselves as your incisions heal. If there is too much scarring, your incision can be redone at a later date, but the scars from mastopexy frequently cannot be made as fine as in other types of surgery.

Death of Fatty Tissue Under the Skin – Death of fatty tissue under the skin of your breast is usually due to dissection that can destroy too much of the blood supply to the fatty tissue. Usually this will drain for several weeks or months after the surgery. Sometimes a hard, scarred area may result.

Infection – of breast tissue is uncommon, but it does occur. It heals with antibiotics and drainage.

Nipple Retraction – This means the nipple, in its new location, is pulled into the breast by scarring underneath it. If withdrawal is severe enough to deform the breast, it may require surgery to release it. As long as the blood supply is adequate, corrective surgery will be successful.

Wrong Position of Nipple – Sometimes, it is difficult to place your nipple in exactly the right position. Usually the problem is that the nipple looks too high on the breast. A common cause of this is the breast tends to slide down and out from under the nipple placement. Corrective surgery is difficult.

Scars – You may heal by forming a keloid, which is a thick, unsightly, heavy scar. Cortisone cream or cortisone injections will usually improve its appearance, but it can also be surgically redone, if necessary, to try to improve its appearance.

Cysts – sometimes occur in your breast due to blockage of the milk glands and ducts. These cysts usually resolve themselves spontaneously and disappear. Some may drain spontaneously.

Sensory Loss – You may lose sensation over areas of your breasts after mastopexy, especially if breasts were large and required extensive dissection. Your nipples may lose their erectility and some of their sensitivity. In many cases, sensation returns but in others the loss is permanent. Women with extremely large breasts often have lost much of the sensitivity even without surgery.


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