Local safety of immediate reconstruction during primary treatment of breast cancer. Direct-to-implant versus expander-based surgery

Egidio Riggio, Elisa Toffoli, Caterina Tartaglione, Giuseppe Marano, Elia Biganzoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: After mastectomy, immediate breast reconstruction is paramount. With the growing number of nipple-sparing mastectomies, the chances of successful one-stage reconstruction with implants are also increasing. Local safety is one of the main issues. This study investigated the factors that could lead to major or minor complications after expander-based versus direct-to-implant (DTI) reconstruction. Methods: The studied factors were age, body mass index (BMI), hypertension, smoking, diabetes, type of mastectomy (nipple-sparing/total), implant size, neoadjuvant/adjuvant chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. The study sample included 294 immediate reconstructions over 3 years. The primary outcome was the incidence of complications, major or minor depending on the necessity of revision surgery. For the DTI pocket, we applied a variant of the conventional submuscular technique. Results: In DTI reconstructions (median follow-up 26 months), the complication rate was 17.2% (4.3% major and 12.8% minor) with no significant association with clinical variables. In expander-based reconstructions (median follow-up 19 months), the complication rate was 18.3% (12.5% major and 5.8% minor). Univariate analysis showed a significant association between overall complications and radiotherapy (P = 0.01) as well as between major complications and expander size (P < 0.005), BMI (P < 0.005), and radiotherapy (P < 0.01); radiotherapy and BMI retained significance in multivariate analysis. Neoadjuvant/adjuvant chemotherapy did not affect the complication rate. Conclusions: There was evidence of an association between major complications and clinical variables in the expander-based cohort. Larger expander size was a predictor of failure, especially combined with radiation. Direct-to-implant reconstruction proved to be safe. We describe a reliable method of reconstruction and a safe range of implant sizes even beyond 500 g.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-242
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Acellular dermal matrix
  • Breast cancer
  • Breast surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Direct-to-implant reconstruction
  • Expander-based reconstruction
  • Immediate reconstruction
  • Local safety
  • Mastectomy
  • Radiotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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