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imageIntroduction: Mastectomy skin flap necrosis is a significant problem in the autologous breast reconstruction. The necrosis may create unsightly scarring, produce contour irregularities, and deform the breast mound. This may lead to a poor reconstruction and patient satisfaction. Most importantly, the development and treatment of mastectomy skin flap necrosis can delay further oncologic treatment.
We performed a retrospective chart review of all patients undergoing autologous breast reconstruction in the past 5 years to examine our incidence and treatment of mastectomy skin flap necrosis. We then used these data to create a management algorithm for mastectomy skin flap necrosis. The goals of this algorithm were as follows: (1) to not delay further oncologic treatment, (2) to expedite the healing time while minimizing patient risk, and (3) to create an aesthetically pleasing breast reconstruction.
Materials and Methods: A retrospective chart review from 2008 to 2013 was performed of all autologous breast reconstruction at our institution. We then analyzed our data and patient outcomes and developed a treatment algorithm.
Results: We identified 204 patients who underwent autologous free flap breast reconstruction that was performed by the senior author (G.K.L.). Our incidence of mastectomy skin necrosis was 30%. There was no delay in adjuvant oncologic treatment for any of our patients. The development of mastectomy skin necrosis was significant for patients with diabetes (P = 0.03), current tobacco use (P = 0.04), and body mass index (P = 0.01). The time for wound healing was prolonged in patients with a high body mass index (P = 0.04). Regression analysis of wound size showed full-thickness wounds greater than 6 cm2 benefited from operative closure.
Conclusions: Our incidence of mastectomy skin necrosis was 30%. Despite our high incidence mastectomy skin necrosis, we had no delays in adjuvant oncologic treatment. Retrospective data analysis allowed us to then develop a management algorithm for mastectomy skin necrosis. We feel it is advantageous to the patient and the reconstructive outcome to heal the breast wounds in the acute phase (within 3 weeks); and with regression analysis, we found full-thickness wounds greater than 6 cm2 benefit from operative intervention. Finally, patients requiring adjuvant oncologic treatment should be healed as quickly as possible so they may continue on with their oncologic care.

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