Older breast cancer patients undergo postmastectomy breast reconstruction infrequently, in part because of a perception of increased surgical risk. This study sought to investigate the effects of age on perioperative complications after postmastectomy breast reconstruction.
The American College of Surgeons National Surgery Quality Improvement Program Participant Use Files from 2005 to 2012 were used to identify women with breast cancer who underwent unilateral mastectomy alone or with immediate reconstruction. Thirty-day complication rates were compared between younger (<65 years) and older (≥65 years) women after implant-based reconstruction, autologous reconstruction, or mastectomy alone. Linear and logistic regression models were used to control for differences in comorbidities and age.
A total of 40,769 patients were studied, of whom 15,093 (37 percent) were aged 65 years or older. Breast reconstruction was performed in 39.5 percent of younger and 10.7 percent of older women. The attributable risks of breast reconstruction, manifested by longer hospital stays (p
< 0.001), more frequent complications (p
< 0.001), and more reoperations (p
< 0.001), were similar in older and younger women. There were no differences in the adjusted complication rates between older and younger patients undergoing implant-based reconstruction. However, older women undergoing autologous reconstruction were more likely to suffer venous thromboembolism (OR, 3.67; p
The perioperative risks attributable to breast reconstruction are similar in older and younger women. Older patients should be counseled that their age does not confer an increased risk of complications after implant-based breast reconstruction. However, age is an independent risk factor for venous thromboembolism after autologous reconstruction. Special attention should be paid to venous thromboembolism prophylaxis in this group.
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