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VTE Risk Up in Older Women Post-Autologous Reconstruction

Overall risk of complications did not differ significantly between age groups

VTE Risk Up in Older Women Post-Autologous Reconstruction

FRIDAY, Jan. 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- While the overall risk of complications from breast reconstruction after mastectomy does not appear to differ significantly between age groups, the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) is higher for older women undergoing autologous reconstruction. The findings were published in the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Researchers looked at data from 40,769 women in the United States who had one breast removed between 2005 and 2012. Of those patients, about 11,800 also underwent breast reconstruction. Patients aged 65 and older were less likely to have breast reconstruction than younger women. About 11 percent of older women chose to have the surgery compared to 39.5 percent of women under 65.

Women who had breast reconstruction had more complications -- such as longer hospital stays and repeat surgeries -- than those who did not have breast reconstruction. However, overall complication rates after breast reconstruction were similar: 6.8 percent of older women had complications, while 5.2 percent of younger women did. One exception: the risk of VTE was nearly four times higher among women 65 and older who had autologous reconstruction. For women between 70 and 75, the risk of VTE was more than six times higher. But the overall rate of VTE was low -- just 1 percent after autologous reconstruction.

"Older patients should be counseled that their age does not confer an increased risk of complications after implant-based post-mastectomy breast reconstruction," Mark Sisco, M.D., of the NorthShore University Health System and the University of Chicago, and colleagues write. "However, they should be counseled that their age may confer an increased risk of VTE."

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