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Plast Reconstr Surg. 1995 Jun;95(7):1213-8; discussion 1219-20.

Psychological evaluation of patients undergoing breast reconstruction using two different methods: autologous tissues versus prostheses.

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Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, National Institute for Cancer Research, Genoa, Italy.


Breast reconstruction has become an available option for most patients undergoing mastectomy. In fact, many authors agree that breast reconstruction does not interfere with possible therapies and improves the women's quality of life. The aim of this study was to evaluate the psychological adjustment of patients who had immediate or delayed reconstruction using two different methods: implants and autologous tissues. Specifically, it was explored whether the different methods of breast reconstruction have caused significant changes in psychological functioning. The study population (102 patients) was derived from patients who underwent breast reconstruction in the period January 1988 to December 1991 at the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery of the National Institute for Cancer Research in Genoa, Italy. Fifty-two patients underwent breast reconstruction using implants and 50 using the transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap. Demographic information was gathered from each patient. The psychological instruments consisted of three standardized self-administered questionnaires: Psychological Distress Inventory, State Trait Anxiety Inventory, Form Y, and the Eysenck Personality Inventory. To better assess the changes in body image after breast reconstruction, three more specific questions about sexual desire, physical image, and social relationships were added. The 102 patients assessed in this study indicated a low incidence of psychological distress. Impairment was reported regarding body image by patients who underwent delayed reconstruction; these patients also showed higher distress scores. The type of breast reconstruction also seems to influence body image, showing in the patients with TRAM flap reconstruction more relevant psychological discomfort.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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