DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery

by Gary K. Johnson

DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Women who have had to undergo mastectomy have more options than ever for regaining their former shape. DIEP Flap Reconstruction Surgery is the most recent advancement in this field, and it offers numerous benefits.

In DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction, tissue from the abdomen is transplanted to the breast. The tissue is a flap that includes deep inferior epigastric perforators (DIEPs), plus the skin and fat surrounding them. The DIEPs come from the lower belly, which is ideal for this type of surgery, as the tissue surrounding the belly button is characteristically similar to that of the breasts. Once the transplant is done, the flap is shaped into a breast and microsurgery is done to reconnect the blood vessels to keep them alive.

The surgery done to the abdomen is akin to a mini tummy tuck and provides patients with the added benefit of a slimmer tummy along with the breast reconstruction.

How Does it Compare?

TRAM Flap and Lat Flap Surgery

Both of these techniques are precursors to DIEP flap surgery, but differ in one significant way: along with skin and fat, TRAM Flap and Lat Flap Breast Reconstruction involve the transplanting of a portion of muscle to keep blood flowing through the tissue.

With DIEP Flap surgery, the muscle is left intact. Though a muscle incision is made during the procedure, this is done to allow access to blood vessels, not to transfer any muscle mass. Since no muscle is taken out of the abdomen, side effects of TRAM Flap or Lat Flap procedures—such as abdominal weakness, hernia, and high post-operative pain—can all be avoided.

Breast Implants

DIEP Flap surgery is superior to breast implants in that there is no foreign material implanted into the body. While breasts implants are generally considered safe, with implants there is more risk for complications. The most common breast implant risk is capsular contracture. Whenever foreign material is implanted into the body, it naturally forms a capsule of scar tissue around the foreign material. Sometimes this tissue shrinks, tightening the implant into a small, hard ball, deforming the breast and requiring further surgery.

GAP Flap

Women without sufficient tummy fat may be prime candidates for GAP (gluteal artery perforator) flap reconstruction instead of DIEP flap. Fat, skin, and arteries for GAP flap reconstruction are taken from the buttocks instead of the tummy. Like DIEP flap, there is no transplanting of muscle.

Downsides

One downside to the DIEP procedure is a lengthier stay in the hospital. Because the nature of the procedure involves transplanting blood vessels, it’s requires longer post-surgery monitoring to ensure that the tissue has sufficient amount of blood flow to keep the tissue living and healthy.

Another downside to DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction is that, because of its newness and complexity, there are not yet many doctors experienced with the procedure. However difficult it is to find a clinic that offers the surgery right now, its benefits ensure that more and more doctors will adopt the method in the near future.

You can search for clinics near you that offer DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery right here on Plastic Surgery Portal. Simply contact us or explore our network of breast reconstruction providers to learn more.

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