It is a misconception that patients can be “too old” for breast reconstruction. Age is only one of many factors surgeons take into account when determining if a patient is a good candidate for surgery. In addition, some older women are under the impression their only option is implants. However, this is not necessarily the case either.
Ideally, ALL breast reconstruction options should be available to older women. This includes the most advanced breast reconstruction procedure available today—the DIEP flap. The DIEP flap uses the patient’s own lower abdominal skin and fat to recreate a warm, soft, “natural” breast after a mastectomy. The DIEP preserves all the abdominal muscles allowing patients to experience less pain, recover quicker, and maintain their core strength long-term. Sparing the abdominal muscle also lowers the risk of abdominal complications.
Age alone does not disqualify a patient from being a DIEP flap candidate. In fact, a recent study took a closer look at how older women undergoing DIEP flap reconstruction compared to younger women having the procedure. Here’s what the study uncovered…
After following 83 DIEP flap breast reconstruction patients over the age of 65, the study found these older patients had similar success and complication rates to younger patients. Likewise, older woman expressed a high satisfaction rate after choosing the surgery.
The authors of the study concluded that the DIEP flap is a safe option for older women and the procedure should be encouraged for breast reconstruction in women over 65 years of age.
“This is something I see reflected in my own practice,” shares Breast Advocate® founder Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo. “Age is only one of many factors I take into consideration when determining which breast reconstruction procedure is best for a patient. Personal motivation as well as physiological age are more important criteria for patient selection than chronologic age alone. Overall health status is far more important. Many of my patients over 65 are very good DIEP flap candidates.”
Ultimately, the best way to determine if you are a candidate for the DIEP flap is to be evaluated by a surgeon experienced in performing these procedures.