The risks include bleeding (requiring a return to the operating theatre) asymmetry, changes in nipple sensation, and tender or lumpy scarring. There is a small risk of blistering and delayed healing. Patients should presume that they will not be able to breast-feed after surgery.
The risk of deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism is minimized by the use of thrombo-embolic stockings, and early mobilization of the patient after surgery (getting out of bed as soon as fit enough to do so with the support of the nurses).
The risk of sepsis after breast surgery is extremely low, however, any patient who develops a fever and feels unwell in the days and weeks after surgery, should seek urgent medical assessment and advice. (This could mean attending the emergency department of a local hospital.)
Patients who experience a rapid onset of calf pain, or shortness of breath in the weeks after surgery, need rapid assessment (usually best carried out by the emergency department of a local hospital) to exclude the possibility of a deep venous thrombosis (a clot in the calf veins) or a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot obstructing a lung blood vessel).