Women who smoke should consider quitting smoking for at least three weeks prior to breast reconstruction surgery.

Women who smoke should consider quitting smoking for at least three weeks prior to breast reconstruction surgery.
Advances in surgical techniques and changes in our understanding of the biology of breast cancer have made breast reconstruction a viable option for the majority of women with breast cancer.

Patient age, income, geographic location, type of hospital where treatment occurred, and tumor stage, all influence the use of reconstruction. Patients age 50 or under had a much greater likelihood of having reconstruction than their older counterparts. Both immediate and delayed breast reconstructions provide substantial psychosocial benefits for mastectomy patients.

According to a recent study published on Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and mentioned by the American Cancer Society, women who smoke are at higher risk of complications after breast reconstruction surgery.

The researchers evaluated more than 700 women who had undergone breast reconstruction surgery during a ten-year period. Women who quit smoking for at least three weeks prior to surgery were included in the ex-smokers category. The former smokers' overall complication risk was similar to the risk of the non-smokers, a finding that surprised even the researches that conducted the study. According to dr. Yetman, smoking has obviously a detrimental effect on this operation. Because of that, 40% of the women who smoke had complications, such as tissue death, tissue damage, and infection, when the percentage of non- ed ex- smokers that have these problems was 25%. It's worth saying that the risk of a wound that reopens instead of healing was three times higher among smokers than among non-smokers. The risk of fat necrosis, a serious complication that causes pain, scar tissue formation, and lumpiness of the reconstructed breast was also three times higher in smokers. During the surgery, there is a diminished supply of blood to the tissue at the reconstruction area The reason of the fact that complications occur more frequently in the smokers is that smoking causes a constriction in blood vessels and produces an adverse effect on wound healing, oxygen delivery and blood flow in tissues. As a result, tissue death, or necrosis at the reconstruction area is more common in women who smoke.

According to Dr. Debbie Saslow, director of breast and cervical cancer for the American Cancer Society, smokers might consider delaying the breast reconstruction surgery, in order to allow themselves time to quit and this could result in much better results.

Naturally, women should be encouraged to quit smoking, not only for the results of the surgery, but also for their overall health.

20/05/2001    Dott. Domenico Alfieri