Research Article|Articles in Press

Association of the breast reconstruction modality with the development of postmastectomy lymphedema: A long-term follow-up study

Published:January 31, 2023DOI:



      Whether the breast reconstruction modality could influence the long-term development of post-mastectomy lymphedema has been little investigated. The present study aimed to evaluate the potential association of the breast reconstruction method with the incidence of lymphedema over an extended follow-up period.


      Patients with breast cancer who underwent immediate reconstruction from 2008 to 2014 were reviewed. They were categorized into three groups according to the reconstruction method: tissue expander/implant, abdominal flaps, and latissimus dorsi (LD) muscle flaps. Differences in the cumulative incidence of lymphedema by the reconstruction method were analyzed, as well as their independent influence on the outcome. Further analyses were conducted with propensity-score matching for baseline characteristics.


      In total, 664 cases were analyzed with a median follow-up of 83 months (402 prostheses, 180 abdominal flaps, and 82 LD flaps). The rate of axillary lymph node dissection was significantly higher in the LD flap group than in the other two groups. The 5-year cumulative incidences of lymphedema in the LD flap, abdominal flap, and prosthesis groups were 3.7%, 10.6%, and 10.9%, respectively. In multivariable analyses, compared to the use of the LD flap, that of tissue expander/implant and that of abdominal flaps were associated with increased risks of lymphedema. A similar association was observed in the propensity-score matching analysis. The use of abdominal flaps or prostheses was not associated with the outcomes.


      Our results suggest that the method of immediate breast reconstruction might be associated with the development of postmastectomy lymphedema.


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