Delayed autologous breast reconstruction: Factors which influence patient decision making

Jonas A. Nelson*, John P. Fischer, M. Anne Radecki, Christina Pasick, Jennifer McGrath, Joseph M. Serletti, Liza C. Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background Autologous breast reconstruction timing continues to be controversial. The purpose of this study was to examine delayed autologous breast reconstruction at a center favouring immediate reconstruction to better understand factors driving the decision to delay reconstruction. Methods We performed a retrospective cohort study of all free autologous breast reconstruction patients between 2005 and 2009, focussing on ethnicity, cancer stage, unilateral or bilateral reconstructions, initial management, distance from the institution, and average income. Delayed reconstructions were compared to immediate reconstructions. All delayed reconstructions were surveyed to examine treatment and reconstruction decisions and satisfaction. Results Of 709 patients, 169 (24%) underwent delayed treatment. Delayed reconstruction patients had higher cancer stages (p < 0.001), higher rates of pre-reconstruction radiation therapy (64% vs. 20%, p < 0.0001) and higher rates of unilateral reconstruction (64% vs. 48%, p < 0.001). Seventy delayed patients responded to the survey (41%), with 75% having had their initial mastectomy at an outside health system. Only 51% discussed immediate reconstruction prior to electing delayed treatment and 41% had no discussion regarding advantages or disadvantages to reconstructive options. Approximately 30% noted no choice in their reconstructive timing. Forty five percent would elect immediate reconstruction if given the option. Conclusions This study demonstrates that women may not be receiving all available information prior to undergoing mastectomy for initial breast cancer treatment. As a significant portion of women electing delayed reconstruction would elect immediate autologous reconstruction if given the option again, there is room for improvement in pre-operative patient education and in the education of our oncology colleagues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1513-1520
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Autologous
  • Breast reconstruction
  • Decision making
  • Delayed reconstruction
  • Free flap
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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