Obesity Tied to Higher Risk of Breast Surgery Complications

Odds of post-breast surgery complications are nearly 12 times higher for obese women

THURSDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity is associated with a significantly higher risk of complications following breast surgery, according to a study published online June 9 in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Catherine L. Chen, M.D., M.P.H., from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and colleagues investigated the impact of obesity on breast surgical complications. The occurrence of surgical complications was compared in 2,403 obese patients and a control group of 5,597 nonobese women who were identified from claims data from of seven Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. All the women underwent elective breast surgery covered by insurance between 2002 and 2006. The odds of developing a surgical complication when obesity was present were evaluated.

The investigators found that there were significantly more claims for complications in the obese group compared to the nonobese group (18.3 versus 2.2 percent). After adjusting for other variables, obesity was found to increase the odds of experiencing complications after breast surgery by 11.8 times.

"Our study shows that obesity significantly increases the odds of experiencing a postoperative complication after undergoing medically indicated, elective breast surgery," the authors write. "Policymakers should consider the higher rate of complications in obese patients undergoing elective surgery when considering appropriate reimbursement and pay-for-performance policies for surgeons operating on this patient population."

Data and database support was provided by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.

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Physician's Briefing

Published on July 07, 2011

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