The effect of chemotherapy on the complication rates of breast reconstruction: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Ishith Seth, Gabriella Bulloch, Matthew Jennings, Nimish Seth, Dylan Gracias, David J. Hunter-Smith, Warren M. Rozen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: The impact of chemotherapy on complications following breast reconstruction surgery (BRS) is currently inconclusive. This meta-analysis investigates the impact of chemotherapy on complication rates in BRS. Methods: Preferred Reporting in Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines was used to search relevant studies published from January 2006 to March 2022. The complication rates of neoadjuvant systemic therapy (NST) and adjuvant systemic therapy (AST) were analyzed via RevMan software 5.4, and a P value of< 0.05 was considered significant. The quality of selected studies was performed using the Newcastle–Ottawa scale for quality assessment. Results: A total of 18 studies comprising 49,217 patients were included. There was no significant difference in the total complications rate, major complications, or minor complications between NST and BRS or control. The rate of wound dehiscence was higher in the NST group compared with the BRS only group [RR= 1.54, 95% CI, (1.08, 2.18), P = 0.02], and the rate of infection was lower in the NST group compared with the BRS only group, [RR= 0.75, 95% CI, (0.61, 0.94), P = 0.01]. No significant difference in the rates of hematoma, seroma, skin necrosis, and implant loss was detected between NST and AST, or NST with BRS only. No statistically significant differences in total complication rates were observed between flap and implant BRS types (P = 0.88). Conclusion: No significant differences between AST and NST were detected for complications. Significantly, NST had more wound dehiscence and less infection rates compared with BRS only groups, possibly reflecting selection bias or issues in the design of reported studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-197
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Adjuvant systemic therapy
  • Breast reconstruction surgery
  • BRS
  • Chemotherapy
  • Complications
  • Neoadjuvant systemic therapy

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