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Aesthet Surg J. 2011 Feb;31(2):190-9. doi: 10.1177/1090820X10395506.

Aesthetic and technical refinements in latissimus dorsi implant breast reconstruction: a 15-year experience.

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Division of Plastic Surgery, Scripps Clinic and Research Institute in La Jolla, California, USA.



The latissimus dorsi myocutaneous flap and implant breast reconstruction procedure has undergone many refinements over its lifetime. In fact, the authors have made many aesthetic and technical refinements to their own approach to breast reconstruction.


The authors review the historical progression of latissimus flap and breast reconstruction techniques and compare these to their own 15-year experience.


A retrospective chart review was conducted for all latissimus and implant breast reconstructions performed by the senior author (MAC) from July 1994 to June 2009, for a total of 52 procedures in 31 patients. Surgical and oncological data, complications, and outcomes data were recorded.


The mean age of the patients at time of surgery was 47.6 years. Average mastectomy weight was 283 grams and average final implant volume was 364 cc. Average follow-up was three years, four months. Of the 52 total procedures, 34.6% were immediate breast reconstructions utilizing skin-sparing mastectomy (SSM); 13.5% of the reconstructed breasts also had preservation of the areola (areolar-sparing mastectomy [ASM]). The most common complication was donor site seroma (40.4%). Aesthetic and surgical refinements identified over the time period included the adoption of SSM and ASM techniques, immediate nipple reconstruction, the placement of an adjustable saline implant to allow for postoperative size adjustment, and implant placement in the prepectoral position. The overall latissimus dorsi implant reconstruction success rate was 94.2% (49/52).


The data demonstrated a successful outcome for latissimus dorsi and implant breast reconstruction for patients with a low or normal body mass index and a small (A to C cup) breast size. The aesthetic outcome of latissimus dorsi breast reconstruction has been improved over the past 15 years by the adoption of SSM and ASM techniques. Immediate nipple reconstruction and the placement of an adjustable saline implant potentially render this procedure a true single-stage reconstruction. Prepectoral implant position provides good aesthetics while preserving the subpectoral space for future management of capsular contracture if required.

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