Sensory recovery following free TRAM flap breast reconstruction

S. Liew*, J. Hunt, D. Pennington

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


The free TRAM flap is now commonly used in breast reconstruction after mastectomy. A number of our patients reported anecdotally return of some sensation in their reconstructed breasts, despite being told beforehand that this was unlikely. This study measured return of sensation in a series of 21 patients, by studying both patients' subjective reporting of sensory return using a standardised questionnaire and objective evaluation of sensation with standard clinical tests. These included temperature and pain threshold and the use of the Semmes-Weinstein method. The study demonstrates that measurable sensory recovery occurred in 16 of our 21 patients (76%). 18 of the 21 patients (86%) reported a subjective feeling of sensation in the reconstructed breast and 7 (33%) claimed it felt the same as their normal contralateral breast. Sensory recovery usually commences about 6 months postoperatively and progressively improves over time. These findings demonstrate that the free tissue transfer method does not necessarily lead to an insensate reconstruction, as might be supposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-213
Number of pages4
JournalBritish Journal of Plastic Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


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