A breast cancer diagnosis followed by mastectomy is a difficult challenge for every woman. For younger women, it is often assumed that a mastectomy will be followed by breast reconstruction surgery. For older women, however, the choice may not always be cut and dried.
Women over 65 were the subject of an article that appeared in a recent issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Using a national surgery database, researchers identified nearly 41,100 women who had unilateral mastectomy (removal of one breast) between 2005 and 2012. Of these, about 11,800 patients underwent breast reconstruction. Women aged 65 or older were less likely to have breast reconstruction: 10.8 percent, compared to 39.5 percent for younger women.
The overall risk of complications from breast reconstruction surgery did not differ significantly between the age groups, after adjustment for other factors. The risk remained about the same for older and younger women undergoing breast reconstruction using implants.
According to study author Mark Sisco, MD, of North Shore University Health System and University of Chicago and ASPS member, Older patients should be counseled that their age does not confer an increased risk of complications after implant-based post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. However, the results do suggest that women aged 65 or older are at increased risk of blood clot-related complications after tissue-based breast reconstruction.