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Breast Reconstruction Boosts Women's Emotional Well-Being: Study

MONDAY, Oct. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Women who had a mastectomy and underwent breast reconstruction using tissue from their own abdomen showed rapid improvements in psychological, social and sexual health after the procedure, a new, small study says.

However, they experienced lingering physical problems in the area of the abdomen where the tissue was removed.

The study included 51 women who underwent two advanced forms of breast reconstruction that are gaining popularity in North America and Europe. The free MS-TRAM and DIEP flap procedures involve using tissue from a woman's abdomen to reconstruct the breast.

The women in this study had the procedures between June 2009 and November 2010. They completed questionnaires before surgery and three weeks and three months afterward.

They reported significant improvements in psychological, social and sexual well-being as soon as three weeks after the procedure. But three months later, they still had problems in the abdominal area where the tissue was taken for breast reconstruction.

The study appears online in the journal Cancer.

The findings may prove helpful to breast cancer survivors who have had a mastectomy and are considering breast reconstruction, said authors Dr. Toni Zhong, of the University Health Network Breast Restoration Program at the University of Toronto and her colleagues at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

"While the author of this study singles out a specific type of breast reconstruction, it's been my experience overall that all women who have had successful reconstructive surgery experience improved psychological and sexual well-being," commented Dr. Philip Bonanno, director of the Institute of Aesthetic Surgery and Medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y.

"In the current health care environment where patients and providers increasingly seek evidence-based data to guide clinical decisions, discussing satisfaction outcomes with patients will help them make educated decisions about breast reconstruction," Zhong said in a journal news release. "Our study can serve as an important source of evidence to guide the decision-making process for both surgeons and patients."

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about breast reconstruction after mastectomy.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCES: Philip Bonanno, M.D., director, Institute of Aesthetic Surgery and Medicine, Northern Westchester Hospital, Mount Kisco, N.Y.; Cancer, news release, Oct. 24, 2011

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