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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2003 Mar;111(3):1060-8.

The psychological effect of mastectomy with or without breast reconstruction: a prospective, multicenter study.

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  • 1Centre for Appearance Research, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of the West of England, Oldbury Court Road, Fishponds, Bristol BS16 2JP, UK.


A multicenter, prospective study ( = 103) examined the psychological implications of women's decisions for or against breast reconstruction. Recognized measures of anxiety, depression, body image, and quality of life were completed before the operation, and 6 and 12 months later. A reduction in psychological distress over the year following the operation was evident in each surgical group (mastectomy alone or immediate or delayed reconstruction), indicating that reconstructive surgery can offer psychological benefits to some women; however, others report improved psychological functioning without this surgical procedure. In contrast to existing retrospective research, the prospective design enabled the process of adjustment during the first year after the operation to be examined. The results indicate that breast reconstruction is not a universal panacea for the emotional and psychological consequences of mastectomy. Women still reported feeling conscious of altered body image 1 year postoperatively, regardless of whether or not they had elected breast reconstruction. Health professionals should be careful of assuming that breast reconstruction necessarily confers psychological benefits compared with mastectomy alone.

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