Study: Breast Reconstruction Restores Well-Being

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After mastectomy, women who have their breasts reconstructed with fat, skin, blood vessels and/or muscle from their abdomen area saw significant improvements in their psychological, social and sexual well-being, according to a study recently published in the journal Cancer.

A group of 51 women were questioned before surgery, and three weeks and three months after having the procedure, during which tissue from the abdomen was harvested to reconstruct the breasts. The procedure is known as MS-TRAM (with muscle) or DIEP (without muscle) flap reconstruction. While the intent of breast reconstruction is to restore the woman’s appearance, the benefits went far beyond the aesthetics, according to the researchers at the University Health Network Breast Restoration Program at the University of Toronto and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

On the three-week questionnaire, many of the women reported gains in their psychological, social and sexual well-being. Yet, some were restricted physically three months after the surgery because they were still healing where the tissue had been removed in the abdominal area.

The researchers hope the study results will help women make educated decisions about what to do after mastectomy. “Our study can serve as an important source of evidence to guide the decision-making process for both surgeons and patients,” said study author Toni Zhong, MD, of the University of Toronto. “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.”

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