Chest Reconstruction Top Surgery Complications

Chest reconstruction top surgery, formerly FTM top surgery, is a highly successful gender confirming surgery with many individuals experiencing positive outcomes. However, like any surgery, there are potential risks and complications that may arise during or after surgery. In this article, we provide information on the potential complications associated with all surgical procedures as well as complications associated specifically with top surgery. These include infections, seroma, potential outcome of your top surgery scars, and changes in nipple sensation in relation to the type of top surgery pursued. Additionally, we discuss how health can affect your outcome and the steps you can take when these complications arise.

Even with the highest level of surgical expertise and care, all surgical procedures, including chest reconstruction top surgery, carry the risk of complications. In general, plastic surgery risks are relatively small. Your risk of experiencing a serious complication is less than half of one percent and the mortality rate associated with plastic surgery is less than one in 50,000 patients.

It’s important that you have a realistic understanding of the potential complications and side-effects associated with chest reconstruction top surgery prior to undergoing your procedure. Your surgeon will explain these risks and answer any questions you have during your consultation.

Complications and Side-Effects Associated with All Surgical Procedures

  • Nausea and vomiting are two of the most common side effects after surgery. This is largely the result of anesthesia, which is used to put you to sleep prior to surgery.
  • Blood clots can occur with any surgical procedure. They are the result of being immobile for a long period of time – often during post-surgical recuperation. If a part of the body has been immobile for too long, blood can begin to pool, eventually turning into a blood clot. It is recommended that you start walking as soon as possible during recovery to avoid this complication.
  • Infections are rare for most plastic surgery patients, but they are still a possibility. The incidence of infection after elective procedures is well below 1% in our experience.  In addition, you will be given a dose of antibiotics while you are under anesthesia, which will help prevent  infection.
  • A  seroma is a collection of watery fluid build-up that usually occurs during recovery. To offset the possibility of this complication, your surgeon may place temporary surgical drains to collect the fluid.
  • Tissue death, also known as necrosis, is possible with any surgical procedure. The risk of this complication increases  dramatically for smokers because smoking can cause issues with blood flow and wound healing.
  • Though rare, there are health risks associated with anesthesia , including airway obstruction, abnormal heart rhythm, allergic reaction, brain damage, stroke, and even death. To minimize these risks, The Gender Confirmation Center’s surgeons only perform surgery in accredited surgery centers alongside board certified anesthesiologists.

 Potential Chest Reconstruction Top Surgery Complications

  • Loss of or reduced nipple sensation is a common effect of chest reconstruction top surgery. This risk is increased in patients who require nipple grafting. Though uncommon, it is possible to experience a complete loss of nipple sensation.
  • If your procedure requires nipple grafting, it is uncommon but possible to experience loss of the nipple graft. In these instances, you may require additional procedures to reconstruct the appearance of your nipple.
  • Scarring is inevitable with chest reconstruction top surgery. The extent of your scarring will depend on the techniques we use, as well as your body’s natural propensity towards scarring. The techniques we choose are based on the amount of chest tissue and the appearance you desire. In general, the double incision technique results in the most significant visible scars.
  • Revision surgery may be necessary for a variety of reasons, such as asymmetric nipple placement, undesirable nipple size/appearance, or prominent/undesirable scarring. If revision surgery is necessary, you will not be charged an additional surgeon’s fee.

The Effect of Age and Health on Risk of Complications and Side-Effects

Older patients typically have more varied medical histories, which can increase their risk of complications and side effects. However, the overall health of a patient is a better indicator of these risks than age. Your surgeon  will be able to determine if you are a good candidate for surgery based on your medical history, current medications, and surgical expectations.

If You Experience Complications

If you begin to experience any complications or side effects, you should contact your surgeon. They will be able to determine the best course of action based on your symptoms.

If at any time during your recovery you feel a sudden shortness of breath, pain in your chest, lightheadedness, dizziness, or tender, swollen legs, call 911 right away. These may be signs of a rare but serious medical emergency.