Background: Despite a growing literature on patient satisfaction in breast reconstruction, few studies have compared perforator flaps with the more commonly practiced methods. The authors compared four reconstructive techniques and identified factors influencing patient satisfaction.
Methods: All patients undergoing postmastectomy breast reconstruction between 1999 and 2006 at a single academic institution were included in our study. A total of 583 patients with tissue expander/implant, latissimus, pedicle transverse rectus abdominis muscle (TRAM), and deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap reconstructions received a validated questionnaire on satisfaction, health-related quality of life, and sociodemographic data.
Results: Patient response was 75 percent, with 439 completed questionnaires including 87 tissue expander/implant, 116 latissimus, and 119 pedicle TRAM and 117 DIEP flap patients. DIEP patients had the highest level of general satisfaction at 80 percent, and pedicle TRAM patients had the highest level of aesthetic satisfaction at 77 percent (p < 0.001 and p < 0.001, respectively). Health-related quality of life and length of time since surgery were identified as significant covariates influencing patient satisfaction. After logistic regression analysis, autologous reconstruction had significantly higher general and aesthetic satisfaction than implant-based reconstruction (p = 0.017 and p < 0.001). Among the autologous reconstructions, abdominal-based flaps had significantly higher general and aesthetic satisfaction than latissimus flaps (p = 0.011 and p = 0.016). When comparing the abdominal-based reconstructions, general and aesthetic satisfaction were no longer statistically significant between pedicle TRAM and DIEP flaps (p = 0.659 and p = 0.198).
Conclusions: Autologous, abdominal-based reconstructions had the highest satisfaction rates across all four groups. After logistic regression analysis, differences in patient satisfaction between pedicle TRAM and DIEP flap reconstruction were no longer observed. Discussing satisfaction outcomes with patients will help them make educated decisions about breast reconstruction.