Breast reconstruction study reveals no additional complications for patients over the age of 65 in Grand Rapids and beyond

With the advent of increased access to genetic testing and a greater emphasis on early diagnosis, women battling breast cancer or other genetic anomalies and diseases now find themselves with more options than ever before. And these decisions extend beyond the specifics of what type of treatment to pursue, including important steps to healing emotionally and physically in the aftermath of a difficult diagnosis and battle.

Susan G. Komen—formerly known as Susan G. Komen for the Cure and The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation—noted on its website that breast reconstruction is an important aspect of this process for many women and while a reconstructed breast is never a perfect replacement, this particular field of plastic surgery continues to evolve and improve.

A breast reconstruction performed by an experienced surgeon like Dr. Brad Bengtson of Grand Rapids can be an important step on the path to a full physical and emotional recovery. But for many patients over the age of 65, the fear of possible complications can act as a deterrent, preventing them from gaining additional information about a procedure that may help restore self-confidence.

According to the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery—the official publication of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons—patients over the age of 65 do not have an overall higher risk of complication in breast reconstruction procedures.

Science Daily wrote an article about the study which involved nearly 41,100 women who had a masectomy between 2005 and 2012. An estimated, 11,800 of these women went on to have a breast reconstruction procedure. However the percentage of younger women seeking breast reconstruction was 39.5 percent while only 6.8 percent of women over the age of 65 sough the procedure. Ultimately, though, the older women who did choose to undergo a breast reconstruction did not experience a higher complication rate than their younger counterparts.

The article did identify one potential area of increased risk for more mature patients. Patients who opted for an autologous reconstruction—utilizing the patient’s tissue to help construct the new breast—experience a risk of a blood clot-related complication called venus thromboembolism, which occurred four times more frequently in patients over the age of 65. However, the study noted that this increased risk can be mitigated by offering patients with a higher risk factor additional attention, potentially including extended use of blood-thinning medications.

Overall, the researchers noted, breast reconstruction for women in Grand Rapids and elsewhere, “is an important option for women undergoing mastectomy and may improve patient self-esteem, body image, and quality of life.”

“Older women considering implant-based reconstruction should be assured that their age is not a factor in determining the risk of complications,” they added.

Dr. Bengtson is a board certified plastic surgeon who has authored textbooks and peer reviewed journals and lectured regionally, nationally, and internationally. He has helped women on their path to recovery by performing a number of breast reconstructions using methods that include utilizing the patient’s tissue, tissue expansion, and implants. Dr. Bengtson’s website notes: “Breast reconstruction is a process, not a single procedure … .”

Dr. Bengtson was a lead investigator for the Natrelle Style 410 Highly Cohesive Gel Implant, a founding member of Allergan’s Executive Council, and the recipient of two prestigious Tiffany Awards for the Best Annual Research by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. His Grand Rapids practice was one of only a few in the United States to offer Natrelle™ “Gummy Bear” breast implants. His is the only practice in West Michigan to offer Vectra 3D Imaging and Simulation system enables patients to visualize the outcome before surgery. Visit Dr. Bengtson’s website for more information about breast reconstruction in Grand Rapids.

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