Text messaging optimizes recovery after breast reconstruction
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Some people may think that after undergoing a mastectomy and a breast reconstruction, cancer survivors can finally relax. And while they certainly can, it may be hard to do so immediately following breast reconstruction, since recovery from these surgeries can take months.
However, according to a recent study, there may be a way to improve recovery times and reduce the risk of complications: texting.
Two-way communication between surgeon and reconstruction recipient
The report, which appeared in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, offers quite a bit of optimism about the benefits of text-based communication between cancer survivors and their surgeons. (The paper is even whimsically titled Take Two and Text Me in the Morning.)
Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center initiated the study by recruiting 102 women who'd had mastectomies. All of these patients received breast reconstructions, but just half were enrolled in a "short messaging system clinical protocol" - that is, a texting group.
These survivors were encouraged to text their surgeons each night to tell them roughly how much fluid had drained from their surgical sites over the course of the day. The clinicians then responded by either recommending continued standard at-home recovery or suggesting that the patient come into the office for drain removal or wound care.
Did it work?
Researchers found that simple back-and-forth texting significantly improved breast reconstruction outcomes:
- After the first 30 days of the program, the authors found that texting patients made fewer clinical visits than women receiving standard care. Non-texters visited their surgeons 3.7 times on average, whereas those who texted came in just 2.8 times during the same interval.
- Texting was also linked to a shorter recovery time, with texting participants having their drains removed three days earlier, on average, than non-texting patients.
- Texters also tended to have their drains removed during the first post-surgical visit, rather than in later follow-ups.
Texting Promotes Recovery After Breast Reconstruction, Reports Study in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. MarketWatch. June 29, 2012.
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/texting-promotes-recovery-after-breast-reconstruction-reports-study-in-plastic-and-reconstructive-surgeryr-2012-06-29" rel="no_follow">http://www.marketwatch.com/story/texting-promotes-recovery-after-breast-reconstruction-reports-study-in-plastic-and-reconstructive-surgeryr-2012-06-29 Accessed July 17, 2012.
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