A simple clinical assessment of breast animation deformity following direct-to-implant breast reconstruction

Diana Lydia Dyrberg, Gudjon Leifur Gunnarsson, Camilla Bille, Jens Ahm Sørensen, Jørn Bo Thomsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background A high incidence of breast animation deformity (BAD) has been reported following immediate breast reconstruction with subpectorally placed implants. The aim of this study was to assess and compare the incidence of BAD in women who underwent either subpectoral or prepectoral immediate breast reconstruction. Therefore, we developed a grading tool and tested its reproducibility in a clinical setting. Methods Video recordings of 37 women who had undergone unilateral or bilateral immediate breast reconstruction were evaluated by two consultant plastic surgeons. The degree of BAD was assessed by our grading tool, named the Nipple, Surrounding Skin, Entire Breast (NSE) grading scale, which evaluates the degree of tissue distortion in three areas of the breast. Blinded assessments were performed twice by each observer. Results Eighteen patients were reconstructed with subpectoral implant placement and 19 with prepectoral implant placement. Using the NSE grading scale, we found a significant difference in the degree of BAD between the groups, in favor of patients who underwent prepectoral immediate breast reconstruction (0.2 vs. 4, P= 0.000). Inter-and intraobserver agreement was moderate (74%) to strong (88%). Conclusions The incidence and severity of BAD was significantly lower in women reconstructed with a prepectorally placed implant than in those who underwent subpectoral immediate breast reconstruction. All patients reconstructed using the subpectoral technique had some degree of BAD. The inter-and intraobserver agreements were high when using the NSE grading scale, suggesting it is an easy-to-use, reproducible scale for assessing BAD in women who undergo immediate breast reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Plastic Surgery
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)535-543
Publication statusPublished - 15. Nov 2019



  • Breast deformity
  • Breast implant
  • Incidence
  • Mammaplasty
  • Treatment outcome

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