Impact of Complications on Patient Satisfaction in Breast Reconstruction

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The development of a complication after surgery can be difficult for both patient and surgeon. With a growing body of literature evaluating patient satisfaction after breast reconstruction, few studies directly focus on the impact of surgical complications on satisfaction. This study analyzed the effect of complications on general and aesthetic satisfaction after breast reconstruction.


All women at an academic institution undergoing breast reconstruction between 1999 and 2006 were identified. Patient demographics and history of complications were collected. A questionnaire adapted from the Michigan Breast Reconstruction Outcomes Survey was administered examining general and aesthetic satisfaction. Patients with complications were compared with patients with no complications.


Overall, 716 women underwent 932 reconstructions; 233 patients had a complication. Patient demographics and response rate were similar between the two groups (overall response rate 75.4 percent). Development of a complication correlated with increased odds of aesthetic dissatisfaction (odds ratio = 1.61, p = 0.047). Other predictors of dissatisfaction were older age, reconstruction with an implant, and a longer time interval between reconstruction and survey, while autologous reconstruction was a predictor of satisfaction. Among patients with a complication, implant reconstruction and mastectomy for prophylaxis were significant predictors of dissatisfaction.


Aesthetic satisfaction after breast reconstruction is lower in patients developing a complication, older patients, and those receiving an implant reconstruction. Furthermore, patients with a prophylactic mastectomy are more likely than those with a therapeutic mastectomy to be dissatisfied when complications arise. These relationships are important, as measures to improve quality and decrease complications can directly improve patient satisfaction.

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