BACKGROUND: The outcome of adjuvant radiotherapy performed after breast reconstruction using autologous flaps is controversial. In this study, we aimed to assess whether postoperative radiotherapy would induce volumetric and cosmetic changes after immediate breast reconstruction performed using a transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap.
METHODS: We evaluated 25 patients who were previously diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent post-mastectomy autologous reconstruction with a pedicled TRAM flap followed by adjuvant radiotherapy. Late aesthetic results were recorded starting 6 months after the completion of a full course of radiotherapy.
RESULTS: The average patient age was 42.2 years (range, 30-53 years). Two (8%) complete flap losses occurred due to massive fat necrosis. Two (8%) patients exhibited flap contracture and volume loss, whereas skin changes were observed in 52% of patients. Most of the patients (84%), however, had no significant initial flap volume loss, contour distortion, or flap contraction.
CONCLUSIONS: The cosmetic result obtained in the present study by immediate breast reconstruction performed using an irradiated TRAM flap was satisfactory compared to the data described in the literature. These findings suggest that the flap contours may be distorted by contraction and that significant volume losses can be observed in patients who may be candidates for TRAM flap reconstruction and require post-mastectomy adjuvant radiotherapy. Thus, in these circumstances, late complications due to postoperative irradiation should be considered.
Keywords: Mammaplastia. Breast/surgery. Radiotherapy.