Breast Reconstruction Increases Psychosocial and Sexual Well Being, Study Finds
“BREAST-Q” Used to Assess Patient Satisfaction and Quality of Life after Breast Reconstruction
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Women who have breast reconstruction using tissue taken from their abdomen, after mastectomy, experience significant improvements in psychological, social, and sexual well being, as well as, increased breast satisfaction, reports a new study published online in the journal Cancer. The study is the first of its kind to assess patient satisfaction and quality of life after breast reconstruction using the BREAST-Q, a new patient reported outcomes measurement tool. The BREAST-Q is funded by The Plastic Surgery Foundation (PSF), the premier plastic surgery research organization advancing cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery.
“Our findings show breast cancer survivors experience substantial gains in their psychological, social, and sexual health as early as three weeks after breast reconstruction,” said plastic surgeon and study lead author Toni Zhong, MD, a PSF funded investigator. “The patient reported data that we’ve obtained through the BREAST-Q not only helps to advance surgical techniques, but will allow women to make better informed decisions about their breast reconstructive options.”
The study examined 51 women who had muscle sparing TRAM or DIEP flap breast reconstruction, whereby plastic surgeons use tissue from the patient’s abdomen to microsurgically reconstruct the breast. The women completed three questionnaires including the BREAST-Q, which specifically measured breast satisfaction, sexual and psychosocial well being. Questionnaires were completed before surgery and at three weeks and three months following surgery. The benefits that the women experienced after breast reconstruction were apparent almost immediately after surgery. However, during the first three months post-surgery, patients did report a decrease in muscle strength in their abdominal area where the tissue was removed. However, many patients will likely regain their abdominal strength later during recovery, the author notes.
“Choosing to undergo breast reconstruction following mastectomy is a very important decision for women,” said plastic surgeon Andrea Pusic, MD, chair of the PSF Clinical Trials Network Committee and co-developer of the BREAST-Q. “Examining patient satisfaction and quality of life following breast reconstruction, through patient-reported outcome tools like the BREAST-Q, will further assist plastic surgeons and patients through the decision-making process and fully appraise the benefits of reconstructive breast surgery.”
Since 1948, The PSF's mission has been to improve the quality of life of patients through research and development. The PSF’s core purpose is to fund and foster meaningful research, support innovation, training and humanitarian efforts through international outreach.
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About The Plastic Surgery Foundation
The Plastic Surgery Foundation (PSF) funds and coordinates plastic surgery research to improve patient care, fosters the career development of plastic surgeons and supports international service. Each year The PSF underwrites more than $750,000 in research funding including the awarding of pilot grant money, directed research programs and research fellowships. Donations to The PSF also support surgeons who volunteer abroad to help the impoverished and foster international outreach through Volunteers in Plastic Surgery (VIPS), which provides volunteer plastic surgery service to developing countries. For more information please visit www.ThePSF.org.