We often describe one of the benefits of DIEP flap surgery as a built-in tummy tuck. In order to clear up misconceptions and clarify the functions and purposes of each procedure, let us examine the similarities and differences between the two procedures.

DIEP Flap Reconstruction Surgery VS Tummy Tuck Surgery

Deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap surgery is a newer and unique breast reconstruction technique that quickly gained prevalence in the field of reconstructive surgery. DIEP flap surgery preserves all the abdominal muscles; only skin and fat are removed. People may think a DIEP flap surgery and Tummy Tuck surgery are one and the same because the tissue removed for DIEP is similar to having a tummy tuck.

When compared to the TRAM flap, patients experience less pain and a faster recovery time with a DIEP flap since the surgeon preserves the abdominal muscles.

DIEP Flap Surgery

  • Breast reconstruction uses the patient’s own skin and fat to create a more natural looking breast.
  • Preserves all abdominal muscles, unlike the TRAM flap surgery.
  • After the procedure, patients have a flatter, tighter abdominal wall, similar to the results of a tummy tuck.
  • Lower risk of hernias and abdominal bulging.

Patients in good health and interested in general aesthetic services in Nashville may not be the right fit for a DIEP Flap surgery, because it is meant to rebuild lost breast tissue after a mastectomy. On the other hand, a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is an aesthetic cosmetic surgery meant to reduce and remove excess fat from the abdomen. A tummy tuck also tightens the skin and muscles around the tummy to leave the patient with a renewed and youthful midsection.

Tummy Tuck Surgery

  • Removes excess fat and skin for cosmetic purposes.
  • Restores weakened or separated muscles to create a smoother and firmer abdominal area.
  • Best for individuals with otherwise normal body weight and proportion.

Will a DIEP Flap Procedure give me the same results as a Tummy Tuck?

While we often say that a DIEP Flap procedure is like getting a tummy tuck, the focus of the surgery is natural breast reconstruction. Some patients may see results with the same toning and tightening as a tummy tuck, but others may not see drastic changes to their midsection.

That said, each DIEP Flap patient will experience some weight reduction and tightening as an added benefit of the procedure. So a better way to say it could be that a DIEP Flap breast reconstruction gives you more of a “mini-tummy tuck.”

Can breasts be reconstructed after a mastectomy?

Depending on factors such as health, financial status, and your doctor’s recommendation, breast cancer patients can choose to receive immediate breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.

Many patients prefer to get all of their surgical procedures done in one go, while others take it in steps.

Can belly fat be used for breast reconstruction?

Yes, in fact, it’s possible to use fat transferred from other parts of the body as well. Other areas where a plastic surgeon can extract fat cells from include the lower back, the buttocks and the inner thighs.

How does DIEP Flap Surgery work?

During this procedure, a patient will be fully sedated for the duration. Typically, the procedure takes about three to four hours per breast.

The process involves making incisions around the breast and abdomen in order to extract and move tissue.

The belly button will actually be relocated during the procedure. It will be lifted and placed under the upper abdominal flap where a hole will be made around the navel. Another key step of this procedure is the relocation of blood vessels, called perforators, that connect facia, muscle and fatty tissue to the body’s circulatory system. Connecting the perforators to the reconstructed breast will ensure tissue health and longevity.

DIEP Flap vs TRAM Flap Surgery

Where DIEP Flap only makes use of the fatty tissue around the abdomen, a traditional TRAM Flap procedure takes muscle and fat tissue to reconstruct the breast. TRAM stands for transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous, in reference to where the cells are tunneled from in order to reconstruct the breast.

TRAM Flap surgery is an older and outdated procedure, which is why plastic surgery centers offer DIEP flap surgery. Although, some plastic surgeons still perform muscle-sparing free TRAM Flap surgery.

All the same, DIEP flap is the recommended best reconstructive alternative to breast implants. If you live in Middle Tennessee, Nashville, Berry Hill, or Brentwood call Garza Plastic Surgery to learn about breast reconstruction surgery in Nashville.

Recovery from DIEP Flap Surgery

Because this procedure is invasive, patients will need to spend the next few days in the hospital and have to follow strict recovery instructions when they return home. After a successful surgery, patients will be given supportive garments to wear on their breasts and around their stomachs.

During recovery, physical activity must be limited. Be aware that there may be some tightness around your abdomen as the skin, abdominal muscles and other tissues heal. This may cause some back pain due to poor posture, but as your body heals these side effects will go away.

How long does recovery from surgery last?

Recovery from DIEP Flap surgery is different for each patient, but typically patients can resume full activity after 6 weeks. Your surgeon will work with you to monitor your progress and condition after your surgery.

Is DIEP Flap a better option than breast implants?

Because this procedure uses your body’s own skin and fat cells to reconstruct a removed breast, it is the best option for breast reconstruction. Breast implants occasionally develop complications such as necrosis, scarring, and ruptures as time goes on. Typically a breast implant has to be replaced around every ten to fifteen years.

The techniques used in this surgery allow plastic surgeons to connect the relocated tissue’s blood vessels to the body’s blood supply. As a result, the reconstructed breast will feel natural, and even age with the rest of your body.

However, DIEP is not the perfect choice for everyone. Women should find alternative surgeries if they . . .

  • Don’t have enough extra belly, buttock, or inner thigh tissue.
  • Already have had abdominal surgeries, like colostomies or abdominoplasties (tummy tuck).
  • Have small abdominal blood vessels or blood vessels in an unideal location for a DIEP flap.

Adding breast lift or breast reduction

Depending on the needs of the patient, a surgeon may recommend a breast lift or reduction on the remaining breast in order to maintain symmetry.

Adding fat transfer

Breast reconstruction, breast implant, and breast augmentation patients may wish for some alterations after the initial surgery. Rather than undergo a similarly intensive surgery, a skilled plastic surgeon can use fat transfer surgery or fat injections to plump and enhance your breasts or other areas of your body.

Fat injections can be used on the face, hands, and buttocks. At Garza Plastic Surgery, we can offer this aesthetic procedure in combination with either a full DIEP Flap surgery or as part of a mommy makeover package.

As a board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Robert Garza offers a full range of plastic, reconstructive, and cosmetic surgery procedures. To learn more about these procedures, click the links below.

DIEP Flap Surgery in Nashville

DIEP breast reconstruction surgery requires special surgical training and expertise in microsurgery. So, not all plastic surgeons offer DIEP. Thankfully, you don’t have to look any further to find a specialized surgeon in DIEP flap surgery. Garza Plastic Surgery in Nashville offers experienced surgeons to perform multiple breast reconstruction and cosmetic procedures.

Additional Cosmetic Surgery Procedures in Nashville

Breast Lift

Breast Augmentation

Breast Reduction

Breast Reconstruction




Buttock Augmentation

Fat Grafting

Tummy Tuck


Skincare + Aesthetic Services in Nashville

What makes Garza Plastic Surgery a unique practice, is the partnership of Dr. Robert Garza and Tracey Robinson, APN, WHNP-BC. We are your one-stop-shop for reaching your aesthetic goals. Explore our minimally invasive aesthetic treatments and our non-invasive beauty enhancements.

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