Outcomes of immediate versus delayed breast reconstruction: Results of a multicenter prospective study

Breast. 2018 Feb;37:72-79. doi: 10.1016/j.breast.2017.10.009. Epub 2017 Nov 2.


Background: Previous studies suggest that immediate reconstruction following mastectomy produces superior results over delayed procedures. However, for medical or oncological reasons, some patients may be poor candidates for immediate reconstruction. We compared complications and patient-reported outcomes between immediate and delayed breast reconstructions in a prospective, multicenter study.

Methods: 1957 patients (1806 immediate, 151 delayed) met eligibility criteria. Demographic data, major complications, infections, and reconstructive failure rates were evaluated. Patient-reported outcomes were assessed with BREAST-Q, PROMIS, and EORTC QLQ-BR23 surveys, pre- and two years post-operatively. Subscale scores were compared across cohorts using mixed-effects regression models, controlling for patient characteristics and hospitals.

Findings: Complete data were available in 1639 immediate and 147 delayed reconstruction patients. There were significant baseline differences between immediate and delayed cohorts in age, BMI, prevalence of diabetes, lymph node management, use of radiation, and chemotherapy. Controlling for clinical covariates, the delayed group had lower odds of any (OR 0.38, p < 0.001) and major (OR 0.52, p = 0.016) complications, compared with immediate patients. Furthermore, delayed reconstruction was associated with a significantly lower failure rates (6% vs. 1.3%, p = 0.032). However, multivariate analyses found no significant differences in patient satisfaction or in psychosocial, sexual, or physical well-being at two years.

Conclusions: Compared with immediate techniques, delayed reconstruction following mastectomy was associated with lower rates of overall and major complication, while providing equivalent patient satisfaction and quality of life benefits. Although immediate reconstruction is still the preferred choice of most patients and surgeons, delaying reconstruction does not appear to compromise clinical or patient-reported outcomes.

Keywords: BREAST-Q; Delayed breast reconstruction; Immediate breast reconstruction; MROC; Mastectomy; Patient reported outcomes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Mammaplasty / adverse effects*
  • Mastectomy
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Failure