Skin-Sparing Mastectomy Flap Complications After Breast Reconstruction: Review of Incidence, Management, and Outcome


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Abstract

This study assesses the incidence and outcome of skin-sparing mastectomy (SSM) flap complications after breast reconstruction. The authors performed a retrospective review of 37 consecutive patients undergoing SSM and immediate breast reconstruction, focusing on preoperative demographics, management of complications, and early outcome. Univariate analysis comparing patients with and without complications was performed using Student's t-test and chi-square analysis. From July 2000 to December 2001, 37 patients (mean age 48.1, range 24–71 y) underwent SSM and breast reconstruction (unilateral 20, bilateral 17) via TRAM flaps (n = 18), latissimus flaps (n = 13), and expander/implants (n = 6). SSM flap complications occurred in nine patients (24.3%) and included mild (n = 2), moderate (n = 5), and severe (n = 2) skin loss, resulting in four cases of dehiscence, five reoperations, and no delay in postoperative adjuvant therapy (required in six patients). Previous irradiation (n = 5, p = 0.045) and diabetes (n = 3, p = 0.001) were associated with SSM flap complications, but age, smoking, previous breast cancer, and type of reconstruction were not. Patients with SSM flap loss had a higher body mass index (BMI) than those without complications (30.0 vs. 24.3;p = 0.025). Skin flap complications after SSM and breast reconstruction are not uncommon but did not delay the initiation of adjuvant chemotherapy or radiotherapy, despite the need for reoperation. Patients with elevated BMI, diabetes, and previous irradiation may be at increased risk for SSM flap complications.

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