Southwest Breast & Aesthetics
The DIEP flap surgery is a reconstructive surgical procedure used to rebuild a woman’s breast(s) after a mastectomy. This advanced surgical technique involves taking excess fat and skin from the lower stomach and transferring it to the chest area to create a new breast mound. Microsurgery is used to bring it to life in its new location. The procedure is becoming increasingly popular due to its ability to provide a soft and more natural breast compared to implant-based reconstruction.
The term “DIEP” stands for Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator, referring to the blood vessels supplying blood to the tissues used in reconstruction. In the procedure, the skin and fat are carefully dissected and removed from the lower abdominal region, preserving the underlying muscle tissue. These blood vessels supplying the tissue are also carefully preserved and reconnected to blood vessels in the chest area to ensure adequate blood flow.
DIEP flap surgery is a more complex and time-consuming procedure compared to traditional implant-based reconstruction and may take several hours. It can be performed at the time of mastectomy or in a delayed setting. We use a two-plastic surgeon approach to minimize the operative room time and optimize the patient outcome. Patients spend two days in the hospital and are referred to physical therapy to aid in their recovery, which is typically six weeks. Patients may experience mild but manageable discomfort and swelling in the abdominal area for several weeks after the surgery. While it is a more complex procedure, it can provide outstanding results for the right patient, and it is an excellent option for women who want a breast reconstruction that uses their own tissue and does not involve the use of artificial implants.
There are several benefits to the DIEP flap procedure over other reconstruction methods. First, the DIEP flap provides a soft and very natural reconstructed breast. Since the patient’s own tissue is used, the surgeon can sculpt and manipulate the tissue to more closely resemble what your natural breasts looked like pre-mastectomy.
Many patients report that this transplanted tissue moves and behaves like their natural breasts. Another benefit of DIEP flap surgery is avoiding complications related to artificial implants. Implants after mastectomy come with some added challenges, and just like anyone receiving saline or silicone implants, complications like capsular contracture, implant rupture, and infection can occur. Long-term outcomes are usually better for DIEP flap patients compared to implants, and unlike the permanent DIEP flap method, implants must be replaced every 10-12 years. Implants also require imaging surveillance at 5 years and every 2-3 years after placement.
Patients who have had failed implant reconstruction, implant dissatisfaction, or chest wall radiation are still candidates for a DIEP flap or other type of tissue-based surgery to reconstruct the breast.
Along with the positive aspects of the breast or breasts themselves, removing tissue and fat from the abdomen during the DIEP flap procedure also has benefits. The fat, tissue, and skin removal process is similar to a tummy tuck and can offer a contoured and flatter abdomen. In addition, other abdominal flap surgeries that remove muscle pose a risk of future hernia due to the loss of muscle tone. This possible side effect is avoided with DIEP because no muscle is removed.
Post-mastectomy reconstruction is covered by insurance regardless of the type of procedure. A DIEP flap is covered as well as any revisions of that procedure.
Women who are considering breast reconstruction in Phoenix should discuss all the options with their plastic surgeon to determine if DIEP flap surgery is the best choice. The expert team at Southwest Breast can offer unmatched insights and provide patients with resources to make the best possible decision for you, your health, and your overall well-being.
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.