Women's Health Matters

Text Size
Jump to body content

Older women benefit from breast reconstruction as much as younger women, with no increase in complications

Older women get the same benefits from breast reconstruction surgery as younger women, without higher complication rates, a new study shows.

Researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor looked at how age affects outcomes of breast reconstruction surgery. According to background information provided in the study, the median age for breast cancer diagnosis is 62, and about 40 per cent of breast cancers are diagnosed in older women. Despite this, older women are significantly less likely than younger women to have reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy. This may be due to fears that older women may be at higher risk for surgery complications.

The researchers compared complication rates in breast reconstruction surgery in young (under 45), middle-aged (45 to 60) and older women (over 60). They found that older women did not have significantly higher complications risks than younger women. This was true for both types of reconstruction procedure: those that use implants, or those that use tissue from the patient’s body (autologous reconstruction).

They also looked at the patients’ own reports of how the surgery affected their lives. They found that older women reported higher sexual well-being than younger women for both implant and autologous reconstruction. Older women also reported better satisfaction with autologous reconstruction than younger women, as well as better physical and psychosocial well-being following this procedure.

The study included data on 1,531 patients from the Mastectomy Reconstruction Outcomes Consortium study, which was funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute. The patients were treated by 57 plastic surgeons at 11 sites in the United States and Canada. There were 494 women in the under-45 group, 803 in the middle-aged group, and 234 older women.

The research was led by Dr. Edwin G. Wilkins of the University of Michigan. It was published online in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons on Oct. 26, 2016.

Jump to top page

  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital