Amazingly, the results can begin as soon as three weeks after surgery.
The study, published early online in the journal Cancer, provides new information to breast cancer survivors who are contemplating these types of breast reconstruction procedures.
While the purpose of the procedure is to restore the appearance of the breast and to improve women’s psychological health after cancer treatment, findings have been mixed on the procedure’s benefits.
To provide a clearer picture of women’s mental and physical health following two advanced forms of breast reconstruction, Toni Zhong, M.D., M.H.S., in collaboration with her colleagues, surveyed 51 women undergoing free MS-TRAM or DIEP flap reconstruction between June 2009 and November 2010.
During these procedures, which are gaining popularity in North America and Europe, surgeons take tissue from the patient’s abdomen and use it to reconstruct the breast. The women in the study completed questionnaires prior to surgery and following surgery at three weeks and three months.
Women who underwent the breast reconstruction procedures reported significant improvements in psychological, social, and sexual well-being just three weeks after surgery.
However, they continued to experienced decreased physical well-being at the abdominal location where tissue was removed at three months following surgery.
The results may be helpful to breast cancer survivors who are considering breast reconstruction.
“In the current health care environment where patients and providers increasingly seek evidence-based data to guide clinical decisions, discussing satisfaction outcomes with patients will help them make educated decisions about breast reconstruction,” said Zhong.
“Our study can serve as an important source of evidence to guide the decision-making process for both surgeons and patients,” she said.