Correction of animation deformity with subpectoral to prepectoral implant exchange

Rachel Lentz, Andre Alcon, Hani Sbitany


Background: Breast animation deformity is a known complication associated with submuscular prosthetic breast reconstruction. Patients often will present months to years after their initial reconstruction complaining of chronic pain and visible contraction deformity of their chest, with minimal voluntary activation of their pectoralis musculature. This is aesthetically displeasing and physically uncomfortable. Our preferred method for addressing existing animation deformity and alleviating patients’ symptoms involves reoperation, with implant pocket conversion to the prepectoral plane, with acellular dermal matrix (ADM) coverage.
Methods: We performed a retrospective review of all patients who underwent prepectoral conversion of their breast reconstruction for correction of animation deformity with the senior author (HS) between March 2016–April 2018. Demographics, operative details, and post-operative outcomes were assessed.
Results: Thirty-one patients underwent 55 revision breast reconstructions for a history of significant animation deformity following their initial submuscular breast reconstruction. All initial breast reconstructions were done with partial muscular coverage of their implant at the time of reconstruction. All patients experienced complete resolution of animation deformity without recurrence. Unplanned return to the operating room occurred in 14.5% of reconstructions. This was four cases of capsular contracture, three infections and one hematoma evacuation. Overall rate of infection requiring intravenous antibiotics was 14.5%. One patient lost both of her reconstructed breasts for an overall implant loss rate of 1.8% implant coverage with ADM was performed in 83.6% of cases, whereas 16.4% of reconstructions were performed with implant pocket change alone. The cohort that did not use ADM had a 44.4% instance of capsular contracture requiring reoperation, compared to a 0% rate of capsular contracture when ADM was used (P<0.01).
Conclusions: Implant pocket change from the submuscular plane to the prepectoral plane is a safe and effective means of addressing submuscular associated breast animation deformity. The application of preoperative fat grafting and intraoperative ADM coverage contributes towards lower rates of complications and decreases the need for revisionary procedures.