The Rates of Postmastectomy Immediate Breast Reconstruction during the Initial Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2023 Aug 16;11(8):e5193. doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000005193. eCollection 2023 Aug.


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic-related changes may have led to changes in immediate breast reconstruction (IBR) rates. We aimed to evaluate these changes before, during, and after the initial wave of COVID-19.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed women who underwent mastectomy with or without IBR from January 1 to September 30, 2019 and from January 1 to September 30, 2020, and compared demographic, clinical, and surgical variables between defined time periods.

Results: A total of 202 mastectomies were included. Fewer patients underwent IBR during the initial surge of COVID-19 (surge period) compared with the months before (presurge period; 38.46% versus 70.97%, P = 0.0433). When comparing the postsurge period with a year before (postsurge control), fewer patients underwent reconstruction even after the initial surge had passed (53.13% versus 81.25%, P = 0.0007). Those who underwent IBR were older than the year before (59.34 versus 53.06, P = 0.0181). The median number of postoperative visits in the postsurge period was 8.50 (interquartile range: 6-12) compared with 14 (interquartile range: 8-20.50) in the year before (P = 0.0017). The overall incidences of complications and unanticipated resource utilization were also significantly lower in the postsurge period compared with the year before [5.88% versus 30.77% (P = 0.0055), and 14.71% versus 28.85% (P = 0.0103), respectively].

Conclusions: IBR rates were lower even after the initial surge than at the year before. Furthermore, during the pandemic, IBR patients were older, had fewer follow-up visits, and fewer reported complications.