Background: Obesity and higher body mass index may be associated with higher rates of wound healing complications and hernia recurrence rates following complex abdominal wall reconstruction. The authors hypothesized that higher body mass indexes result in higher rates of postoperative wound healing complications but similar rates of hernia recurrence in abdominal wall reconstruction patients. Methods: The authors included 511 consecutive patients who underwent abdominal wall reconstruction with underlay mesh. Patients were divided into three groups on the basis of preoperative body mass index: less than 30 kg/m2 (nonobese), 30 to 34.9 kg/m2 (class I obesity), and 35 kg/m2 or greater (class II/III obesity). The authors compared postoperative outcomes among these groups. Results: Class I and class II/III obesity patients had higher surgical-site occurrence rates than nonobese patients (26.4 percent versus 14.9 percent, p = 0.006; and 36.8 percent versus 14.9 percent, p < 0.001, respectively) and higher overall complication rates (37.9 percent versus 24.7 percent, p = 0.007; and 43.4 percent versus 24.7 percent, p < 0.001, respectively). Similarly, obese patients had significantly higher skin dehiscence (19.3 percent versus 7.2 percent, p < 0.001; and 26.5 percent versus 7.2 percent, p < 0.001, respectively) and fat necrosis rates (10.0 percent versus 2.1 percent, p = 0.001; and 11.8 percent versus 2.1 percent, p < 0.001, respectively) than nonobese patients. Obesity class II/III patients had higher infection and seroma rates than nonobese patients (9.6 percent versus 4.3 percent, p = 0.041; and 8.1 percent versus 2.1 percent, p = 0.006, respectively). However, class I and class II/III obesity patients experienced hernia recurrence rates (11.4 percent versus 7.7 percent, p = 0.204; and 10.3 percent versus 7.7 percent, p = 0.381, respectively) and freedom from hernia recurrence (overall log-rank, p = 0.41) similar to those of nonobese patients. Conclusion: Hernia recurrence rates do not appear to be affected by obesity on long-term follow-up in abdominal wall reconstruction. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Risk, II.
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