Animation deformity is an unsightly complication after sub-pectoral breast reconstruction characterized by implant displacement with pectoralis muscle contraction. Recent increased awareness of this phenomenon has driven interest in pre-pectoral breast reconstruction but research is limited regarding the causes and implications of animation deformity. Specifically, no patient-specific risk factors have been identified as contributing to animation deformity. Placement in a sub-pectoral plane and division of the pectoralis are the only peri-operative factors associated with severity of animation deformity. Our own quantitative analysis of animation deformity has further refined our understanding of this phenomenon, which we present here along with a review of current grading scales. We also more broadly review the current literature surrounding animation deformity, including its causes, risk factors, impact on patient outcomes and current treatment options. Overall, patients find this to be an emotionally distressing complication and most patients would like to be educated on alternative surgical options to avoid animation deformity. Treatment options range from conversion to a pre-pectoral plane to muscle-splitting techniques to selective nerve ablation to Botox injections. Further research into causes, implications and ways to enhance pre-pectoral reconstruction are needed to improve patient outcomes with this phenomenon.
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