We conducted a retrospective survey of American Society of Plastic Surgeons to ascertain the current trends in breast reconstruction (BR).
Surveys were sent to 2250 active American Society of Plastic Surgeons members by e-mail with a cover letter including the link using Survey Monkey for the year 2010. In all, 489 surveys (a response rate of 21.7%) were returned. Three hundred fifty-eight surveys from respondents performing BR in their practices were included in the study. The survey included questions on surgeon demographics, practice characteristics, BR after mastectomy, number of BR per year, type and timing of BR, use of acellular dermal matrix, reconstructive choices in the setting of previous irradiation and in patients requiring postmastectomy radiation therapy, timing of contralateral breast surgery, fat grafting, techniques used for nipple-areola reconstruction, the complications, and physician satisfaction and physician reported patient satisfaction. Returned responses were tabulated and assessed.
After prophylactic mastectomy, 16% of BRs were performed. In all, 81.2% of plastic surgeons predominantly performed immediate BR. In patients requiring postmastectomy radiation therapy, 81% did not perform immediate BR. Regardless of practice setting and laterality of reconstruction, 82.7% of respondents predominantly performed implant-based BR. Half of the plastic surgeons performing prosthetic BR used acellular dermal matrix. Only 14% of plastic surgeons predominantly performed autologous BR. Surgeons in solo, plastic surgery group practices, and multispecialty group practices preferred implant-based BR for both unilateral and bilateral cases more frequently than those in academic practices (P < 0.05). Overall, plastic surgeons in academic settings preferred autologous BR more frequently than those in other practice locations (P < 0.05). Of total respondents, 64.8% did not perform microsurgical BR at all; 28% reported performing deep inferior epigastric perforator flap BR. Pedicled transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous flap was the most often used option for unilateral autologous reconstruction, whereas deep inferior epigastric perforator flap was the most commonly used technique for bilateral BR. The overall complication rate reported by respondents was 11%.
The survey provides an insight to the current trends in BR practice with respect to surgeon and practice setting characteristics. Although not necessarily the correct best practices, the survey does demonstrate a likely portrayal of what is being practiced in the United States in the area of BR.