Background: The majority of breast reconstructions are performed using implant material. Implants have some major long-term disadvantages. Long-term implant-related complications and improved microsurgical techniques have led to an increased number of women requesting conversion of their implant breast reconstruction to autologous breast reconstruction. The aim of this study was to evaluate surgical and aesthetic outcome and patient satisfaction after tertiary autologous breast reconstruction.
Methods: Between 2001 and 2007, 42 women underwent 61 tertiary autologous breast reconstructions. Surgical outcome and complications were evaluated. Patient satisfaction was assessed using a study-specific questionnaire. Aesthetic result was rated by an expert panel using standardized photographs.
Results: Forty-seven deep inferior epigastric artery perforator, 10 mini–transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous, and four transverse musculocutaneous gracilis flaps were performed. Eight patients required reoperation because of complications (19 percent). Total flap loss did not occur. Nineteen patients underwent one or more additional operations to improve aesthetic outcome. Physical discomfort caused by implants and dissatisfaction with the aesthetic result were the main patient motivations to opt for autologous breast reconstruction. Reduction or disappearance of physical discomfort was noted in the vast majority of patients. Most patients were very satisfied with the aesthetic result (mean, 8 of 10), but the mean panel satisfaction score was lower (7 of 10). However, the panel noted a significant improvement of the aesthetic result after conversion to autologous breast reconstruction (from 5 of 10 to 7 of 10).
Conclusion: Autologous breast reconstruction after failed implant reconstruction is a technically feasible and reliable procedure that leads to improved physical condition and aesthetic results and a high degree of patient satisfaction.