Breast aesthetics impacts patients’ quality of life after breast reconstruction, but patients and surgeons frequently disagree on the final aesthetic evaluation. The need for a comprehensive, validated tool to evaluate breast aesthetics independently from the patient motivated this study.
The 13-item Validated Breast Aesthetic Scale was developed after several internal meetings, and worded to be understood by a nonspecialist. Three items are common for both breasts, with the remaining being side-specific. To test the internal consistency of the scale subitems, postoperative photographs after different breast reconstruction techniques were graded by a six-member panel. To test interrater and intrarater correlation across time, four physicians evaluated the results of abdominally based breast reconstructions following nipple-sparing mastectomies.
Graded aesthetic outcomes of 53 patients showed that the Cronbach alpha of the subitems of the scale was 0.926, with no single item that, if excluded, would increase it. Twenty-two patients underwent aesthetic outcomes grading at four different time points. The mean overall appearance was 3.71 ± 0.62. The mean grade for overall nipple appearance was 4.0 ± 0.57. The coefficient alpha of the panel overall aesthetic grade across different time points was 0.957; whereas intragrader reliability for graders 1 through 4 individually showed alpha coefficients of 0.894, 0.9, 0.898, and 0.688, respectively. Similar results were found for the other items of the scale.
The proposed aesthetic scale evaluates different aspects of the breast reconstruction aesthetic result with excellent internal consistency among its subitems. Grading by a gender-balanced, diverse four-member panel using postoperative photographs showed higher reliability and reproducibility compared to single graders.