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The impact of obesity on outcomes for patients undergoing mastectomy using the ACS-NSQIP data set



According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 34.7% of females in the United States are obese (BMI ≥ 30) in 2014, compared to 32.5% in 2010. The previous research has demonstrated high BMI as an independent risk factor for surgical complications after breast surgery. As more patients become obese, we sought to examine whether increasing obesity had an effect on outcomes of women who underwent a unilateral mastectomy without breast reconstruction.


The study reviewed the 2007–2012 ACS-NSQIP database and identified all patients who underwent a unilateral mastectomy without reconstruction. Patients were then categorized and compared according to the World Health Organization obesity classification. Data were analyzed for minor complications (e.g., UTI and SSI) and major complications (e.g., renal failure, sepsis, deep vein thrombosis, return to operating room [RTOR], and cardiac arrest).


A total of 7207 women were identified. Median BMI was 27.3 kg/m2. From the cohort, 453 patients (6.29%) had a major complication and 173 patients (2.40%) had a minor complication. 53 (0.74%) had bleeding complications, 148 (2.05%) had a surgical site infection (SSI), 352 (4.88%) RTOR, and 7 (0.01%) died within 30 days. Major complications (p = 0.005) and minor complications (p < 0.001) significantly increased as BMI increased. SSI and RTOR had increasing trends, but were not statistically significant.


This study characterizes the risk of complications in women undergoing unilateral mastectomies and shows that increasing obesity is associated with major and minor postoperative complications. Our finding highlights the need for personalized preoperative risk assessment and counseling of obese patients.

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This work is partially supported by the Cancer Center Support Grant from the National Cancer Institute to the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (P30 CA012197).



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Correspondence to Mary Garland.

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All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Retrospective review of de-identified patients using the NSQIP database.

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Garland, M., Hsu, FC., Clark, C. et al. The impact of obesity on outcomes for patients undergoing mastectomy using the ACS-NSQIP data set. Breast Cancer Res Treat 168, 723–726 (2018).

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  • Breast cancer
  • Obesity
  • Surgical site infection
  • Mastectomy
  • Complication