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Advanced breast reconstruction techniques used sparingly

Article-Advanced breast reconstruction techniques used sparingly

New York — Very few breast reconstructions in the United States use the most advanced microsurgical techniques, according to a report in the May issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Both conventional and microsurgical flap techniques use a patient's own tissues to reconstruct the breast, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports. The newer microsurgical techniques may avoid some of the side effects and discomfort of conventional techniques, but most breast reconstruction procedures done today aren’t using the latest advances, the study suggests.

Researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York used a database to analyze data on nearly 16,000 women undergoing mastectomy in 2008, about 6,000 of whom underwent immediate breast reconstruction. The overall reconstruction rate was about 38 percent, while a study from 2003 using the same database found a 24 percent rate.

Age, income and race were among many factors studied. According to research, younger women, Caucasian and Asian women and higher income earners were more likely to have implants, where women over the age of 50 were more likely to undergo reconstruction with their own tissues.
Breast implants consisted of more than 60 percent of reconstructions, while 34 percent of reconstructions were done with conventional plastic surgery skin flaps. The remaining procedures were performed using advanced microsurgical flap techniques.

"The presence of disparities in care suggests that current decision making for breast reconstruction is not based solely on patient preference or anatomic features," the study authors wrote.

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