Process of Care in Breast Reconstruction and the Impact of a Dual-Trained Surgeon

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For postmastectomy reconstruction, the most common model in the United States is a two-team approach, consisting of breast and plastic surgeon. In other countries, a single-surgeon approach trained in both plastic and oncologic surgery is well described. We hypothesized that a dual-trained breast and plastic surgeon would decrease the postoperative care burden for the patient without compromising outcomes and serve as a model for team-centered breast reconstruction care.


A retrospective review was performed of patients undergoing mastectomy with immediate expander reconstruction from January 2013 to October 2014. Patient data up to 1 year postoperatively was recorded. Patients were stratified by treatment to “single-surgeon” or “two-surgeon” team. Demographic and operative data were recorded. Google Maps was used to calculate travel distance. A standard of mean cost of travel per mile and mean hourly wage for San Diego County was used. The primary outcome was the total number of postoperative clinic visits. In addition, factors predictive of postoperative clinic visits were evaluated.


During the study period, 147 patients were included in analysis (69, single-surgeon; 78, two-surgeon). The mean cost of travel per mile was US $59.2 cents and mean hourly wage for San Diego County was US $25.49. For the 1-year follow-up period, patients with the single surgeon had a mean (SD) of 9.3 (3.72) postoperative visits compared with 15.6 (3.96) for patients in the two-surgeon team (P < 0.0001).


There were no statistical differences between groups in the rate of complications. In the final model, treatment team, bilateral mastectomies, and complications (operative and nonoperative) were significant predictors of the total number of postoperative visits. Patients in the two-surgeon team spent an additional 11.13 hours and 216 miles commuting and in clinic. In total, the additional 6.3 clinic visits for patients in the two-surgeon team resulted in an average of US $695.33 additional dollars spent on travel and lost wages.


Single-surgeon patients required fewer postoperative visits. Fewer postoperative clinic visits may have significant socioeconomic and psychological benefits to patients. Given these results, we believe that streamlining care into an integrated multidisciplinary model would be beneficial.

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