Half of all cancers occur in women older than 65 years, yet only 4 to 14 percent of these women undergo reconstruction. Most studies on reconstruction in the elderly have focused on tissue expander/implant or autologous reconstruction. A direct-to-implant approach theoretically reduces the number of operations and postoperative visits, but has yet to be investigated in the elderly.
Institutional review board approval was granted for a retrospective chart review for patients who underwent direct-to-implant reconstruction from 2012 to 2015 with any staff in the authors’ department. A control cohort of patients who underwent tissue expander/implant-based reconstruction from the same period was analyzed.
Direct-to-implant reconstruction was performed in 24 breasts in 19 patients with at least 30-day follow-up and in 17 breasts in 14 patients with at least 1-year follow-up. A control group analysis of tissue expander/implant patients was performed for 109 breasts in 88 patients. The tissue expander/implant group was significantly younger (p = 0.001), with a lower body mass index (p = 0.004). There was no difference in the rate of seroma, hematoma, infection, necrosis, or failed reconstruction. Direct-to-implant patients had significantly reduced numbers of drain days (p < 0.001), length of stay (p = 0.05 and p = 0.039), readmissions (p = 0.03 and 0.03), extra hospital days (p = 0.05 and p = 0.045), and postoperative visits (p < 0.001).
Direct-to-implant breast reconstruction in the elderly yields similar complication and failure rates compared to tissue expander/implant reconstruction. However, direct-to-implant reconstruction patients had a reduced number of drain days and fewer readmissions, hospital stays, and postoperative visits. Direct-to-implant reconstruction is a powerful tool to use in elderly women with appropriate breast shape and ptosis.
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