A Prospective and Randomized Study, “SVEA,” Comparing Effects of Three Methods for Delayed Breast Reconstruction on Quality of Life, Patient-Defined Problem Areas of Life, and Cosmetic Result

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During the last 30 years, many methods for delayed breast reconstruction have been described. There is a lack of prospective randomized trials comparing reconstruction methods. The present study (SVEA), conducted 1995 to 1996, describes the impacts of three methods: the lateral thoracodorsal flap, the latissimus dorsi flap, and the pedicled transverse rectus abdominis muscle flap (TRAM), on important areas of life, patients' perception of cosmetic result, and quality of life. Questionnaires were completed before randomization and at 6 and 12 months postoperatively. The preoperative questionnaire concerned the impact of breast loss and expectations on reconstruction. Follow-up questionnaires dealt with satisfaction with cosmetic result and impact on important areas of life. A health-related quality-of-life questionnaire (SF-36) was completed at all points of assessment. A total of 75 of 87 randomized patients underwent breast reconstruction: 16 patients with the lateral thoracodorsal flap, 30 with the latissimus dorsi flap, and 29 with the TRAM flap. The majority were very satisfied with the cosmetic result. Most women reported improvements in important areas of life, and quality of life in terms of “social functioning” and “mental health” increased significantly after the reconstruction. The latissimus dorsi flap and TRAM flap scored significantly higher as compared with the lateral thoracodorsal flap for similarity with the contralateral breast and reduced problems in social situations. No differences between irradiated and nonirradiated patients were found. All methods were considered to produce good cosmetic results and improvements in patient-defined problem areas of life and quality of life. No negative effects were recorded. Thus, irrespective of method, breast reconstruction is a valuable tool for the mastectomized woman to cope with problems in everyday life. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 105: 66, 2000.)

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