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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2005 Sep 15;116(4):993-1002; discussion 1003-5.

Quality of life and affective distress in women seeking immediate versus delayed breast reconstruction after mastectomy for breast cancer.

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Department of Physical Medicine, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.



This study compared the presurgical psychosocial and functional status of 238 women seeking breast reconstruction, either at the time of their mastectomy (immediate) (n = 151) or after prior mastectomy (delayed) (n = 87). Delayed subjects were further categorized in groups of time-since-mastectomy to examine the effects of time on postmastectomy psychosocial adjustment.


Presurgical measures of quality of life, psychological distress, and somatic anxiety were obtained.


The results revealed relative impairment of quality of life and psychosocial functioning for immediate compared with delayed subjects. Immediate subjects reported greater disturbance in general mental health functioning, more severe impairment in emotional well being related to their cancer diagnosis, and higher levels of anxiety. Immediate subjects also reported a trend toward greater disturbance in work and daily activities, more frequent interference in social activities, and less vitality. Similarly, it was noted that the immediate group reported greater impairment in physical and functional well being related to their cancer adjustment. On psychological assessment, immediate subjects were more likely to report higher levels of affective distress, depressive symptoms, and obsessive-compulsive traits. For the delayed group, no statistically significant differences in the dependent measures were obtained when comparing subjects at 1 year, 2 years, and more than 2 years after mastectomy.


Women seeking immediate reconstruction at the time of mastectomy show a relatively higher incidence of psychosocial impairment and functional disability. Women who undergo mastectomy demonstrate early restoration of psychosocial health within the first year after surgery. Patient preoperative psychosocial distress may have important implications for clinical decision-making and surgical outcome for women seeking combined mastectomy and breast reconstruction.

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