HealthDay News — Older women undergoing autologous breast reconstruction after mastectomy have a higher risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), according to a study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Researchers looked at data from 40,769 women in the United States who had one breast removed between 2005 and 2012. Of those patients, about 11,800 also underwent breast reconstruction. Patients aged 65 and older were less likely to have breast reconstruction than younger women. About 11% of older women chose to have the surgery compared to 39.5% of women under 65.

Women who had breast reconstruction had more complications — such as longer hospital stays and repeat surgeries — than those who did not have breast reconstruction. However, overall complication rates after breast reconstruction were similar: 6.8% of older women had complications, while 5.2% of younger women did. One exception: the risk of VTE was nearly four times higher among women 65 and older who had autologous reconstruction. For women between 70 and 75, the risk of VTE was more than six times higher. But the overall rate of VTE was low — just 1% after autologous reconstruction.

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“Older patients should be counseled that their age does not confer an increased risk of complications after implant-based post-mastectomy breast reconstruction,” Mark Sisco, MD, of the NorthShore University Health System and the University of Chicago, and colleagues write. “However, they should be counseled that their age may confer an increased risk of VTE.”


  1. Butz D et al. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2015; doi:10.1097/PRS.0000000000000988.