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Black women under-represented in social media for breast reconstruction

African American women are less likely to be pictured in social media posts showing the outcomes of breast reconstruction, according to an analysis of 2,580 photos on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. While African American women accounted for about 13 percent of patients undergoing post-mastectomy breast reconstruction in 2018, less than 7 percent of the social media images depicted non-white women.

Breast reconstruction has lasting benefits for women who have undergone mastectomy for breast cancer and is required under federal law to be covered by health insurance plans. While the number of women undergoing breast reconstruction appears to be increasing, recent data suggest a significant 2.1 percent decrease in breast reconstruction in African American women.

Social media has become an important tool for sharing information and education about plastic and reconstructive surgery and has become “the single largest tool for patients to research a surgeon,” according to the researchers. Before-and-after photos of patients undergoing breast reconstruction help set patient expectations and give an idea of the results achieved by individual surgeons.

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