Dr. Catherine Lee Chen and colleagues of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore analyzed insurance claim data on approximately 8,000 women undergoing elective breast surgery from 2002 to 2006.
Of these women, 2,400 -- about 30 percent -- were obese. For each type of procedure, rates and types of complications were compared for obese vs. non-obese women, Chen said.
"Obesity is associated with a nearly twelve-fold increased odds of a post-operative complication after elective breast procedures," Chen said in a statement.
The study, scheduled to be published in the November issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, found about 18 percent of obese women filed an insurance claim covering a complication after breast surgery -- breast reduction surgery or breast reconstruction -- compared to 2 percent of non-obese women.
After adjustment for other factors, the risk of complications was 11.8 times higher for obese patients, the study said.