A retrospective investigation of abdominal visceral fat, body mass index (BMI), and active smoking as risk factors for donor site wound healing complications after free DIEP flap breast reconstructions

Floyd W Timmermans, Pèdrou B Westland, Stefan Hummelink, Joep Schreurs, Marijn Hameeteman, Dietmar J O Ulrich, Nicholas J Slater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap is one of the most common techniques for breast reconstruction. Body mass index (BMI) is considered as an important predictor of donor site healing complications such as wound dehiscence. The use of computed tomography (CT) proved to be a precise and objective method to assess visceral adipose tissue. It remains unclear whether quantification of visceral fat provides more accurate predictions of abdominal wound healing complications than BMI.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: A total of 97 patients with DIEP flap were retrospectively evaluated. Patients' abdominal visceral fat (AVF) was quantified on CT angiography (CTA). The patients were postoperatively assessed for abdominal wound healing complications. We analyzed for the correlations between AVF, BMI, and dehiscence and established a logistic regression model to assess the potential high-profile predictors in anatomic and patient characteristics such as weight, smoking, and diabetes.

RESULTS: We included 97 patients, and of them, 24 patients (24.7%) had some degree of abdominal dehiscence. No significant differences were observed between the dehiscence group and the non-dehiscence group, except for smoking (p = 0.002). We found a significant correlation between AVF and BMI (R = 0.282, p = 0.005), but neither was significant in predicting donor site dehiscence. Smoking greatly increased the likelihood of developing wound dehiscence (OR = 11.4, p = < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: AVF and BMI were not significant predictors of abdominal wound healing complications after DIEP flap reconstruction. This study established active smoking (OR = 11.4, p = < 0.001) as the significant risk factor that contributed to the development of abdominal wound dehiscence in patients with DIEP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-832
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

Cite this