The differential effect of BMI on prosthetic versus autogenous breast reconstruction: A multivariate analysis of 12,986 patients

Philip J. Hanwright, Armando A. Davila, Elliot M. Hirsch, Seema A. Khan, Neil A. Fine, Karl Y. Bilimoria, John Y.S. Kim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Scopus citations


Background: The comparative safety of breast reconstruction in obese patients remains to be clearly defined. This study utilized multi-institutional data to characterize the effect of body mass index (BMI) on breast reconstruction outcomes. Methods: Utilizing Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes, patients undergoing tissue expander, pedicled transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap, latissimus dorsi flap, and free flap breast reconstruction were identified in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database. Patients were stratified as obese (BMI≥30) and non-obese (BMI<30). Overall postoperative morbidity, flap complications, non-flap complications, and reoperation rates were compared among the groups. Results: Of 12,986 patients who underwent breast reconstruction, 3636 (28.0%) were obese. Overall morbidity was significantly elevated in obese patients across all forms of reconstruction ( p<0.05). BMI was correlated with increased surgical complications for tissue expander, pedicled TRAM, and free flap reconstructions (OR=1.09, OR=1.05, OR=1.10, respectively; p<0.05). Medical complications were higher in obese patients undergoing tissue expander and pedicled TRAM reconstructions ( p=0.001 and p<0.001), but no significant difference was observed in latissimus and free flap reconstruction patients. Compared with obese tissue expander recipients, obese patients reconstructed using autologous tissue had higher rates of reoperations (12.8% versus 9.1%), overall morbidity (18.0% versus 9.5%), surgical (12.7% versus 8.3%), and medical complications (9.0% versus 2.2%). Conclusions: The NSQIP database allows for evaluation and comparison of reconstructive outcomes in the obese population. Increased BMI was associated with higher morbidity in autologous reconstruction than tissue expander reconstruction. Among autologous procedures, latissimus flaps experienced the lowest captured 30 day morbidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)938-945
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • BMI
  • Body mass index
  • Breast reconstruction
  • Complication
  • Flap
  • Implant
  • Microvascular
  • Pedicle
  • Tissue expander

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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