Patient Reported Outcomes After Immediate and Delayed DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction
By: Courtney Floyd
Can timing of breast reconstruction impact patient satisfaction with final results?
DIEP flap represents today’s ‘gold standard’ for breast reconstruction. It can be performed at the same time as a mastectomy (immediate) or any time after (delayed). In fact, there is no “cut off” time for reconstructive surgery. It can be performed many years following breast cancer surgery.
Timing of breast reconstruction surgery can impact the overall cosmetic results to some degree. Immediate breast reconstruction is typically associated with better cosmetic results. This is because a skin-sparing mastectomy can usually be performed which saves much of the natural breast skin envelope and results in less visible scaring for the patient. Some patients are also candidates for nipple-sparing mastectomy which saves the native nipple and areola.
But this does NOT mean delayed reconstruction patients have poor outcomes. In fact, with advances in reconstructive techniques, patients are reporting the same high satisfaction scores following delayed reconstruction as their immediate reconstruction patient counterparts.
A study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery has shown delayed and immediate reconstruction patients report no significant differences in quality of life at one-year post DIEP flap surgery. In the same study, both immediate and delayed patients report high satisfaction scores for their breast reconstruction outcomes at six months following surgery.
We see the same overall patient satisfaction results at PRMA as well!
“This is comforting information for patients needing to delay reconstruction due to cancer treatment or who are unsure about reconstruction,” says Dr. Peter Ledoux. “There is no need to rush into a surgery a patient is unsure about. It is important for patients to take time to evaluate all their options and decide what is best for them without the pressure of a deadline. With reconstruction options like the DIEP flap, patients needing to delay their reconstruction can rest assured they will still have optimal results following surgery.”