Breast reconstruction following conservative mastectomies: predictors of complications and outcomes.
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Breast reconstruction can be performed using a variety of techniques, most commonly categorized into an alloplastic approach or an autologous tissue method. Both strategies have certain risk factors that influence reconstructive outcomes and complication rates. In alloplastic breast reconstruction, surgical outcomes and complication rates are negatively impacted by radiation, smoking, increased body mass index (BMI), hypertension, and prior breast conserving therapy. Surgical factors such as the type of implant material, undergoing immediate breast reconstruction, and the use of fat grafting can improve patient satisfaction and aesthetic outcomes. In autologous breast reconstruction, radiation, increased BMI, certain previous abdominal surgery, smoking, and delayed reconstruction are associated with higher complication rates. Though a pedicled transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap is the most common type of flap used for autologous breast reconstruction, pedicled TRAMs are more likely to be associated with fat necrosis than a free TRAM or deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap. Fat grafting can also be used to improve aesthetic outcomes in autologous reconstruction. This article focuses on factors, both patient and surgical, that are predictors of complications and outcomes in breast reconstruction.