FRIDAY, Sept. 17, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Women seem to recover from the negative impact of mastectomy on body image within four years of surgery, regardless of timing or decision to undergo reconstruction, according to a study published online Sept. 8 in Psycho-Oncology.

Kathy Dempsey, Ph.D., from the University of Sydney, and colleagues examined the impact of breast reconstruction on women’s perceptions of body image over time. Patient-reported outcomes were compared among women choosing immediate (61 women), delayed (16 women), or no (23 women) breast reconstruction. Only 30 women completed all four annual follow-up questionnaires.

At 12 months after mastectomy, the researchers found significant changes in eight of the 10 subscales, which dropped to seven subscales at 24 months and four at 36 months. Only three subscales remained significantly different versus baseline scores by 48 months. These subscales included women feeling less vulnerable and having fewer limitations (improved outcomes) but experiencing persistently higher levels of arm concern (worse outcome). “Empowering women with the choice of breast reconstruction options may be an important contributing factor in restoring body image in women undergoing mastectomy, regardless of the option they choose,” Dempsey said in a statement. “Breast cancer surgeons have a duty of care to their patients who require mastectomy to ensure they are informed of all breast reconstruction options and to support them in obtaining their choice even if it is not available locally.”

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