Breast reconstruction after cancer surgery can have lasting benefits for women’s psychological well-being and body image, a new study suggests.

Research has shown that for women who have a mastectomy to treat breast cancer (breast cancer treatment), reconstructive surgery can provide a psychological lift, helping to improve low self-esteem and body image.

But whether those benefits last — and whether they differ based on the type of breast reconstruction — has been less clear.

In the current study, of 173 breast reconstruction patients, researchers found that many of the psychological gains women had shortly after the surgery were still apparent two years later.

On average, the women were still reporting improvements in energy, anxiety and ability to work and enjoy social activities.women

And the type of reconstruction had “surprisingly limited effect,” according to the researchers, led by Dr. Dunya Atisha of the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor.

The study included 173 women who had undergone breast reconstruction at one of 12 U.S. medical centers.

The majority had immediate reconstruction, done at the time of their mastectomy, but some waited to have the procedure.

More information at Reuters