Clinical Determinants of Patient Satisfaction with Breast Reconstruction


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Abstract

The main objective of this study was to examine the relationship between specific treatment variables and patient satisfaction with breast reconstruction. A questionnaire was developed that included questions on population demographics and satisfaction with the reconstruction. Of 206 women who completed the questionnaire, 23 (11.2 percent) responded that they were not satisfied, whereas 183 (88.8 percent) indicated that they were satisfied overall. A detailed retrospective chart review permitted a comparison of the treatment received by these two groups. Variables analyzed included patient age, time since surgery, reason for surgery, method and timing of reconstruction, additional surgical procedures received (mound revisions and nipple-areola complex reconstruction), and postoperative complications. Data analysis showed that the treatment received by the two groups was similar in many respects. There was no statistical association between the method or timing of reconstruction and a patient's satisfaction with the results. Furthermore, there was no difference in the number of mound revisions or nipple reconstructions performed on satisfied versus dissatisfied patients. However, the latter group experienced a substantially higher incidence of postsurgical complications (27 percent versus 61 percent, p = 0.0015).Patients were also asked to provide a written response explaining their feelings on breast reconstruction. Satisfied patients described benefits from reconstruction such as improved appearance or feelings of normalcy and wholeness. Conversely, unsatisfied patients were displeased because of poor cosmetic results, complications with the reconstructed breast, or abdominal problems. Although overall satisfaction with breast reconstruction is undoubtedly determined by multiple and complex clinical, emotional, and psychological factors, this study suggests that postoperative complications are a particularly important indicator of dissatisfaction with reconstruction. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 107: 46, 2001.)

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