WHAT IS DIEP FLAP SURGERY?
DIEP flap surgery, also known as deep inferior epigastric artery perforator surgery, takes tissue from other parts of the body to reconstruct the breast. Skin, fat, and blood vessels are taken from the lower abdomen to recreate the shape of the breast.
DIEP flap surgery is a breast reconstruction method that gives the patient a more natural look and feeling. An added bonus is that the patient gets a free “tummy tuck” in the process.
Is DIEP Flap Surgery a Good Option for Me?
Many candidates have questions about what qualifies them for the DIEP Flap procedure. One of the most common concerns relates to previous abdominal surgeries, especially cesarean section birth, or C Section. Usually, one or two C Sections will not impact DIEP Flap. In fact, a plastic surgeon can take the donor tissue off of the top of the abdominal muscles so it will not disturb anything else. Below are a couple of things you should consider before DIEP flap.
You should be in good health at the time of your procedure. When you meet with Dr. Garza for your initial consultation, you should review your medical history thoroughly. You should review any health risks like allergies, history of smoking, and especially any previous procedures for breast cancer treatment.
Another concern relates to receiving radiation therapy for breast cancer. One side effect of radiation therapy is a condition called fibrosis, which occurs when non-cancerous cells sustain damage during radiation treatment.
Because of the hardened scar tissue, some plastic surgeons have turned away candidates for breast reconstruction saying that the remaining tissue might be too firm to use in the reconstruction. With DIEP flap however, that’s not a necessary concern. We’re able to solely use soft tissue to restore volume to the breast.
Also, if you don’t have enough tissue around your tummy, we can take tissue from another donor area such as the buttocks or the thigh.
DIEP FLAP RECOVERY
DIEP flap surgery can mean longer downtime than other breast reconstruction procedures. After the procedure, you can expect to stay in the hospital for recovery for around five days. You may spend eight weeks recovering and resting at home.
In addition to rest, you will need to wear supportive clothing to help the reconstructed breast heal properly. Dr. Garza will instruct you on which brands of clothing to wear after your surgery.
An implant-based reconstruction may only take around four weeks, in contrast. You will have surgical drains on your body at both surgical sites for one to two weeks after surgery. When you have healed enough, your doctor will recommend at-home stretching exercises to help your body fully recover.
Are There Other Types of Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
Yes! In fact, we offer a few different options available at Garza Plastic Surgery in Nashville, TN. Some of these differ depending on the type of reconstruction you need. DIEP Flap surgery solely focuses on restoring volume, but it does not include nipple reconstruction. However, we do offer nipple and areola reconstruction surgery as a separate option.
We also offer breast implant surgery, with two different types of breast implants. We offer saline-filled implants and silicone gel “gummy bear” implants.
What are the Risks of DIEP Flap Surgery?
Occasionally, there can be some fluid build-up after the procedure. This is why there are surgical drains placed around the treatment sites.
Additionally, some patients may experience scarring or lumping in the reconstructed breast. If scar tissue builds up, there can be some loss of feeling in the new breast. Finally, there is a small risk that patients can develop a condition called tissue necrosis. This occurs when the donated soft tissue is rejected and begins to die off.
If you are worried about tissue necrosis, careful monitoring and check-ups will help you catch any signs. If necrosis occurs, a plastic surgeon can remove the decayed tissue. After removal, you should wait for about one year before receiving another reconstruction surgery.