According to the January issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, not only are more women opting for immediate breast reconstruction, but more are using breast implants rather than autologous (using the woman’s own tissue) procedures, such as the DIEP or TRAM flap reconstruction.
Using a national database, researchers assessed trends in breast reconstruction from 1998-2008. The rate of immediate reconstruction after mastectomy rose steadily each year — from about 21 percent to 38 percent by the end of the study.
While the number of breast reconstruction procedures without implants remained relatively unchanged, the rate of reconstructions with implants increased by an average of 11 percent per year.
The rise in reconstructions might be explained by the trend in more women opting for preventive mastectomies, particularly in high-risk cases. Rising awareness and acceptance of the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) of 1998, which ensures coverage for breast reconstruction after mastectomy, was also cited as a contributing factor.
Determining the reason behind the preference for implants is less obvious. But maybe it’s as simple as the fact that most of the approximately 300,000 women who get breast implants each year are satisfied.
And breast reconstruction with implants after mastectomy is a well-trod, relatively safe and acceptable route to restoring a natural appearance and sense of wholeness.
It’s all about getting back to normal, as quickly as possible.