Infection After Breast Reconstruction: Statistics, Signs, and Treatment

Board-Certified Plastic Surgeons Serving Denver, Lone Tree, Colorado & Nationwide

Posted: July 14, 2021

It’s relatively rare to develop an infection after breast reconstruction. If one does occur, it can often be cleared with antibiotics, though corrective procedures may sometimes be necessary. Here’s what you need to know about this complication, including how often it happens, what to look for, and why it doesn’t need to hold you back from achieving beautiful results.

How Common is Infection after Breast Reconstruction? 

Infections can happen after any surgery. However, they aren’t common, and the chances of developing one are about 1% to 5%. 

Looking at breast reconstruction, one study found that the risk of infection for implant reconstruction is 12%. Meanwhile, the risk of infection for DIEP flap reconstruction is 7%. Infection can also develop around a tissue expander in the days or weeks following surgery.

Patients who receive preoperative radiation are more likely to develop complications. If you’re concerned about the possibility of infection, talk to our board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons. We’ll gladly discuss your situation and explain our advanced infection prevention protocols.

What are the Signs of Infection after Breast Reconstruction?

Your post-op guide will include a complete list of potential issues to watch for after surgery. In the case of infection, signs and symptoms may include:

  • High fever over 101.5°F
  • Excessive breast pain
  • Redness at the incision site or pus drainage from the incision
  • Bleeding
  • Rapidly expanding swelling under the skin 

If you experience any of these, call your surgeon right away. Our team will evaluate your symptoms and determine the best course of action for getting your recovery back on track.

Symptoms of infection after breast reconstruction infographic

Treatment for Post-Breast Reconstruction Infection

It can be difficult to think about the possibility of infection. However, it’s important to remember that most infections can be successfully cleared with antibiotics. If it appears that antibiotics alone won’t treat the issue, then the situation may call for corrective breast reconstruction.

Corrective breast reconstruction techniques include removing the failed implant. You may have to wait several weeks before you can reconstruct the breast again. At that point, you can in most cases choose between implant reconstruction or tissue flap reconstruction. 

You can even pursue this surgery years after a failed reconstruction due to infection. Don’t lose hope when it comes to achieving the results that you’ve always wanted.

Schedule a Consultation to Learn More

Are you unhappy with the results of reconstruction surgery or experiencing the symptoms of a complication? Our board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons are here to help. We can help you overcome this challenge and finish your journey on the right foot. 

Call 303-706-1100 today to schedule a consultation at our Lone Tree practice. The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery proudly serves patients from Denver, Colorado and across the nation.