Microsurgical Breast Reconstruction in Thin Patients: The Impact of Low Body Mass Indices

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The purpose of this investigation was to examine patients with low body mass index (BMI) regarding the feasibility to perform autologous breast reconstruction in such patients, as well as to determine optimal donor sites and evaluate outcomes accordingly.

Patients and Methods

All patients undergoing microsurgical breast reconstruction were divided into three cohorts based on BMI. Group 1 included patients with BMI greater than or equal to 22 kg/m2 and was defined “low-normal BMI.” Patients with BMI 22 to 25 kg/m2 were placed in Group 2, labeled as “high-normal BMI.” Group 3, defined as “overweight,” included patients with BMI greater than 25 kg/m2, but less than 30 kg/m2. Patients were then analyzed based on demographics, breast cancer history, intraoperative details, complications, and revisionary surgeries. F-tests, chi-square goodness-of-fit tests, and Freeman-Halton extension of the Fisher exact tests were used for statistical analysis.


During the study period, a total of 259 reconstructions were performed. Group 1 included 30 patients (n = 49 flaps), Group 2 included 58 patients (n = 98 flaps), and Group 3 included 69 patients (n = 112 flaps). Patients undergoing nipple-areolar sparing mastectomy were more likely to be in Groups 1 (39% [n = 19]) and 2 (37% [n = 37]) as compared with Group 3 (14.2% [n = 16]) (p < 0.001) as compared with the overweight cohort. Patients with increasing BMI were more likely to undergo abdominally based free flaps as compared with alternative donor sites (Group 1 = 2.26, Group 2 = 7.9, Group 3 = 27 [p < 0.001]).


Abdominally based free flaps are possible in the majority of patients, however alternative harvest sites have to be used more frequently in low BMI patients.

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