Comparison of breast augmentation incisions and common complications

Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2012 Oct;36(5):1096-104. doi: 10.1007/s00266-012-9918-x. Epub 2012 Jun 1.


Background: Incisions for insertion of breast implants are most commonly placed in the inframammary fold, areola, or axilla. Previous studies have evaluated selection of incision location preoperatively and for nipple-areola complex sensation retention after primary augmentation mammaplasty. This study compares the most common postoperative complications for each incision location in patients who underwent primary breast augmentation.

Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed on 619 patients who underwent primary breast augmentation, excluding simultaneous mastopexy, within a single group practice from July 1994 to June 2009. Incision location, postoperative complications (capsular contracture, hematoma formation, rippling, infection, and rupture), and total reoperation rates were recorded. Incision locations were also compared with respect to implant fill type (saline or silicone gel) and pocket location (subglandular or submuscular).

Results: A statistically significant association was identified between total reoperation and incision location (p = 0.0054). The highest rate of total reoperation occurred when using an inframammary fold incision compared to either the transaxillary or periareolar. This relationship with total reoperation was not attributed to the five complications analyzed, but rather with patient desire for size/style change, asymmetry, or ptosis. No statistically significant association was observed between incision location and specific complications such as capsular contracture, rippling, implant rupture, hematoma, or infection.

Conclusions: None of the five complications analyzed correlated with incision location. The data generated from this study will assure the surgeon that all three incision locations are safe. Preoperative examination, patient preference, and surgeon comfort should remain the mainstays of incision planning in augmentation mammaplasty.

Level of evidence iv: This journal requires that authors assign a level of evidence to each article.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast Implantation / adverse effects
  • Breast Implantation / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Reoperation / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult