Many women elect for immediate breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. Researchers investigate the timing of this surgery to ensure the least amount of complications for the patient.

The rate of women choosing to have a mastectomy has steadily increased over the past few years. As an option to surgically remove the entire breast, mastectomies have been one of the main treatments for breast cancer in women with the high-risk breast cancer associated BRCA gene. Even if cancer is only found in one breast, many women have opted to get a bilateral mastectomy. With this, breast reconstruction has been a well-used method to rebuild the breast. Under the advice and guidance of a physician, women are choosing to have either immediate, delayed, or secondary breast reconstructive procedures.

Even though breast reconstruction can be done after many months or years following a mastectomy, many women choose to undergo this procedure immediately, particularly those who have had a bilateral mastectomy. In fact, data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample pinpointed a 1.5-fold increase between 2005 and 2011 in the number of patients who received immediate reconstruction after a surgical mastectomy. With few studies performed using a sufficient sample size, comparing the incidence of wound complications after autologous or implant surgery, was essential for the Department of Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine.

To investigate and compare the occurrence of surgical site infections and non-infectious wound complications in women who received breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, researchers performed a retrospective cohort study.  The study defined reconstruction within seven days of mastectomy as immediate, a reconstruction that took place more than seven days after a mastectomy as delayed, or secondary if the mastectomy procedure included an immediate reconstruction. Data from women between the age of 18 to 64 years who had a mastectomy between 2004 and 2011 was obtained from a commercial insurer claim database in twelve different states. Out of the 17, 293 women who received a mastectomy, 61.4% of them had immediate reconstruction or delayed reconstruction. They recently published their results in JAMA Surgery.