Skin Color Match in Autologous Breast Reconstruction: Which Donor Site Gives the Best Result?

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2024 May 24. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000011562. Online ahead of print.


Background: Color match of a reconstructed breast with the surrounding area is of importance for the overall aesthetic result. The objective of our study was to quantify the degree of color match achieved with different autologous breast reconstructions and to analyze the changes in color over time by analyzing digital photographs.

Methods: 193 patients that underwent a delayed autologous breast reconstruction (DIEP, PAP, LAP, LD) were included. Standardized pictures from 242 flaps at 3 months and 9-12 months postoperative were analyzed and the L*a*b* values and delta E2000 (dE) values were determined to qualify the color match. The Kruskal-Wallis and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests were used for statistical analysis.

Results: Initially, DIEP flaps had a significant lower dE value compared to LD (p=0.012) and PAP flaps (p < 0.001) when compared with the natural breast. PAP flaps showed a significant decrease after 9-12 months (p=0.003). Perception of color match was in all flaps comparable. Compared to the cleavage, at late follow-up, DIEP flaps had a significant higher dE value compared to LD (p=0.017) and PAP flaps (p < 0.001). PAP flaps presented a significant decrease of dE after 9-12 months (p =0.031). Abdominal skin presented no better skin color match in patients with PAP, LD, and LAP flaps.

Conclusions: All analyzed flaps have a comparable color match with the surrounding tissue as well as with the contralateral breast about one year after surgery. The color of PAP flaps changes more, which leads to an improvement at a later follow-up.