Will reconstruction help chronic pain?

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Question from EbbyS: I am hesitant about reconstruction because of chronic post-mastectomy pain (it's been 2 years). What impact does reconstruction have on chronic post-mastectomy pain? Does it tend to make it better or worse?
Answers - Joseph Serletti My experience has been that in many instances reconstruction actually seems to make the post-mastectomy pain better. That includes both implant reconstruction, but it is definitely more common following reconstruction using the patient's own tissue, like a TRAM flap. Now I'll ask Dr. Sabol to comment.
Jennifer Sabol, M.D., F.A.C.S. While I know of no studies looking at the incidence of post-mastectomy pain prior to and after reconstruction, I agree with Dr. Serletti that anecdotally, patients seem to have an improvement in their pain if their pain was related to scarring and fibrosis. Patients that have other reasons for chest wall pain, such as fibromyalgia, will generally not notice a change in their symptoms, but as a rule will not worsen.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Reconstruction Updates featured Joseph Serletti, M.D. and moderator Jennifer Sabol, M.D. answering your questions about breast reconstruction.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in May 2007.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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