Free tissue transfer after unsatisfactorily implant-based breast reconstruction, a cohort study

Olivia L. Sharp, Shikha Gupta, Guido Köhler, Richard M. Haywood, Dhalia Masud

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Breast reconstruction can be performed using implants or autologous tissue, either alone or in combination. Implants typically require re-operation during the patient's lifetime, often for adverse capsular contracture. Conversion from implants to autologous tissue may improve symptoms and deliver a definitive reconstruction. This is known as salvage breast reconstruction. In this paper we evaluate the indications, outcomes, complications and cost implications of salvage breast reconstruction in our regional centre and report these in line with the STROBE guidelines. Retrospective casenote analysis of all salvage breast reconstruction patients from January 2018 to January 2020 was performed. Nineteen patients were identified, with a median age of 52 years. Indications were all capsular contracture other than two each of implant rupture and patient request. Thirty-two perforator free flaps; 29 deep inferior epigastric, two profunda artery and one lateral thoracic artery flap were performed. Median time from first implant to free flap reconstruction was nine years. Median hospital stay was five days. No total flap losses and one partial flap loss occurred. Three patients underwent secondary procedures to the breast to improve the aesthetic outcome. All patients reported improvement in symptoms and appearance. For implant-intolerant patients adequately counselled and accepting of the post-operative downtime, salvage reconstruction with autogenous tissue offers a lasting solution. The upfront healthcare costs are higher with a free tissue transfer, but may become comparable longer term given the multiple exchange of implant procedures required over a patient's lifetime.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1633-1701
Number of pages69
JournalJournal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery
Issue number7
Early online date30 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021

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