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Southwest Breast and Aesthetics

DIEP Flap Surgery: A Guide

Southwest Breast & Aesthetics

What is DIEP Flap Surgery?

DIEP flap surgery, short for Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator flap surgery, is a sophisticated reconstructive procedure that utilizes the body's own tissue to reconstruct the breast after a mastectomy. Unlike traditional methods, which use artificial silicone implants, the DIEP flap technique offers a more natural and lasting outcome.

During DIEP flap surgery, our skilled Phoenix breast reconstruction surgeons carefully remove excess skin and tissue from the lower abdomen while preserving blood vessels and avoiding the abdominal muscles, which protects muscle integrity. The removed tissue, which includes fat, skin, and blood vessels, is then delicately transplanted to the chest area to recreate a soft and natural-looking breast mound. Advanced microsurgical techniques are used to reattach the blood vessels from the donor tissue to the chest area, ensuring proper blood flow and tissue vitality.

This intricate process requires precision, expertise, and specialized training from a plastic surgeon and should only be performed by someone who is properly qualified. The result is a reconstructed breast that not only restores the breast form but also provides a natural feel and appearance.

What are the benefits of DIEP Flap Surgery?

For women seeking breast reconstruction after mastectomy, DIEP flap surgery can provide a natural and permanent alternative to implants along with an easier recovery compared to some other flap surgeries where muscle is moved. With DIEP flap, no muscle is taken from the flap area, so strength is preserved, and healing is less intense. Since fat and tissue are removed from the donor area, it is similar to a tummy tuck, which means this method offers the side benefit of body contouring through the elimination of excess abdominal tissue.

Another benefit of DIEP flap surgery, and why many women opt for this method, is to avoid any foreign implants or substances in the body. Implants can rupture, cause complications, and, at the very least, must be replaced eventually, so DIEP is a great alternative. Because the transferred flap is your own living tissue, it looks very natural, will age at the same rate and in the same way as surrounding tissue, and it will also adjust to weight fluctuations the same way a natural breast would.

Am I a candidate for DIEP Flap Surgery?

If you are in generally good health and have enough excess abdominal fat and tissue to be used for a DIEP flap of proportionate size, you are likely a good candidate for this procedure. Ideal DIEP flap candidates would prefer not to have a foreign implant and understand that this procedure will involve a longer recovery immediately post-procedure than some other methods.

Patients who have had certain previous abdominal surgeries or those with abnormal blood vessels in the abdomen may need to consider other options. It's important to discuss your full medical history with your surgeon.

How do I prepare for DIEP Flap Surgery?

Prior to scheduling surgery, you will need to complete a physical exam and lab work. Certain medications may need to be paused, such as blood thinners. In general, we want you to be as healthy as possible before your procedure to make the healing process easier. This means in the months and weeks leading up, we encourage healthy eating, light exercise, and avoiding nicotine in all forms.

What are the possible complications of DIEP Flap Surgery?

While undergoing surgery with a highly skilled and qualified surgeon will lessen the instances of serious complications due to inexperience, DIEP flap surgery is still a major and complex surgery that does come with certain risks. Infections or inadequate wound healing, anesthesia complications, bleeding, and fluid collection or seroma are possible with any surgery. Specifically, with this procedure, loss of sensation or even necrosis, also known as tissue death, can occur.

How successful are DIEP Flap Surgeries?

DIEP flap surgeries have an overall high success rate and are considered a reliable option for breast reconstruction after mastectomy. The success rate can be as high as 99% when performed by an experienced surgeon. Keep in mind, success is influenced by a variety of factors, including surgical expertise along with the patient's overall health and their willingness to follow post-operative care instructions.

Underlying health conditions, smoking, and infection due to improper wound care could negatively impact the ability to heal well. Setting yourself up for a smooth recovery by preparing your space, asking for help ahead of time, and closely adhering to your surgeon's recovery guidelines can increase the chances of uncomplicated healing.

Put Yourself In Good Hands

DIEP flap surgery is a great example of the intersection of medical expertise and cutting-edge technology, offering breast cancer survivors a transformative solution that blends aesthetics and patient well-being. The key is finding an experienced, skilled, and qualified surgeon like those at Southwest Breast. We can help you decide if DIEP is right for you and guide you every step of the way.

Your journey to better begins with a consultation at Southwest Breast and Aesthetics. Our plastic surgeons set the standards for plastic surgery through their innovative procedures and meticulous attention to detail. Discover a better experience by booking your consultation at Southwest Breast and Aesthetics today.