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Women who undergo reconstructive breast implantation frequently develop short-term complications

Almost one-third of women who underwent reconstructive breast implantation after mastectomy had at least one short-term complication in the chest or breast area, with one in five women requiring additional surgery, according to a study in the December issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Breast cancer is the most common malignancy among women in North American, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and some parts of South America, according to background information in the article. Women with breast cancer and their physicians may face several choices in the course of treatment, including whether to remove the breast (mastectomy) or undergo breast-conserving therapies, when and whether to reconstruct the breast following mastectomy and what materials to use in doing so. Surgeons performing postmastectomy reconstruction can form the new breast from flaps of skin and other tissue from the woman's body (autologous tissue) or insert an implant, and sometimes use both techniques at once. Many women choose implants alone because the procedure is simpler and requires less operation time than those using autologous tissue, and it can preserve the color of the skin of the breast and possibly some of its sensitivity.

Trine F. Henrikson, M.D., of the Danish Registry for Plastic Surgery of the Breast (DPB), Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues analyzed data from 574 women in the registry who underwent postmastectomy breast reconstruction between June 1, 1999, and July 24, 2003. The patients' surgeons reported the dates and details of each implantation and filled out follow-up forms when the women returned for subsequent visits. The women, ages 21 to 78 years with a mean (average) age of 51 years, were monitored through Sept. 15, 2003.

Following their first implantation, 31 percent of the women developed at least one adverse event, 16 percent developed two complications and 8 percent experienced three or more during the course of
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Contact: John Howser
615-322-4747
JAMA and Archives Journals
19-Dec-2005


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