DIEP Free Flap Breast Reconstruction
DIEP Free Flap Reconstruction
As a cosmetic surgeon, breast reconstruction makes up a large portion of my practice. It is therefore in my best interest and that of my patients to have the best available options for surgical procedures, from implants to autologous flap surgery (the latter using the patient’s own tissue to reconstruct the breast or breasts). The Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator Flap, or DIEP Free Flap, is not widely available despite its excellent results and relative safety. This procedure requires additional training as well as microsurgery training.
In the following article, I will address some of the most common questions about DIEP, but it is always best to set up a consultation, specifically with a qualified surgeon, to discuss whether this procedure is right for your individual circumstances and needs or if a different approach would be more beneficial.
What is DIEP Free Flap?
DIEP Free Flap is a breast reconstruction procedure that can be performed pre- or post-mastectomy, meaning that a patient can have cancerous tissue removed at the same time as having the breast reconstructed. Many patients find this approach to be beneficial to their self-esteem, as they do not need to live with only one or no breasts after their mastectomy. The procedure itself involves removing a “flap” of complete tissue, including blood vessels, skin and fat, from the abdomen, usually the lower belly-area. The abdominal muscles are not removed or used in this procedure, unlike some other reconstructive options.This puts it in the category of a “muscle-sparing” procedure. The blood vessels of this tissue are then attached to the chest blood vessels through microsurgery before the tissue is shaped into a natural looking breast.
What Are The Benefits of DIEP Free Flap?
One of the unique benefits of the DIEP Free Tissue Flap procedure over other autologous flap surgical options is that it often results in a slimmer waistline after surgery. The placement of the tissue donor site at the lower front of the abdomen is very similar to a “tummy tuck,” and the effect of taking the tissue from this site is much the same. The abdomen is left slimmer and tighter after the procedure, the same as it would be after a tummy tuck.
Aesthetically, autologous flap procedures, like the DIEP Flap surgery, result in a much more natural and symmetrical breast appearance and feel than implant reconstruction because they use the patient’s own living tissue to reconstruct the breast. Appearance aside, the DIEP Flap procedure also results in a quicker recovery and more core strength retention. Additionally, you avoid all the high complication risks which may occur using a breast implant; such as, capsular contracture, infection or bottoming out. In order to correct any of these issues it would require a second surgery, which most women would like to avoid, and even then, its not a guarantee that complications won’t arise again.
Not for Everyone
For those patients who have little excess abdominal tissue or who have had a tummy tuck or some other abdominal surgeries in the past, the DIEP Free Flap procedure may not be a viable option, as well as for those who have small blood vessels. As with any procedure, it is best to consult with a qualified surgeon to discuss whether or not you are a candidate and what the best option is for your individual needs. I believe the DIEP Free Flap procedure is the best available option for patients who are good candidates for it, and I believe it provides the most benefits and lowest risk of complications for those seeking autologous breast reconstruction over implants. Please call my office to schedule a consultation today to find out if this revolutionary procedure is right for you.