DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction
What is DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction?
Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP Flap) is a breast reconstruction technique that uses a patient’s tissue to rebuild a breast mound for a more natural look. Instead of breast implants, a plastic surgeon will relocate a patient’s excess skin and fat along with its blood supply from the lower abdomen to the chest area to create a breast or breasts (bilateral DIEP Flap). Unlike the TRAM flap, DIEP Flap spares the abdominal muscles from the donor site. Due to the complexity of the surgery, Memorial Plastic Surgery is one of the only practices in all of Texas that offer this procedure.
The Best Candidates for DIEP Flap Surgery
DIEP Flap is the most advanced breast reconstruction technique to date, and because of its complexity, not everyone is a good candidate for the procedure. To qualify for a DIEP Flap, you should:
- Have an ample amount of fat in your abdomen (or the donor site)
- Have not undergone previous abdominal surgery
- Be generally healthy, with no serious medical condition like diabetes, heart disease
- Have realistic expectations about the surgery and its outcomes
Risks Associated with DIEP Flap Surgery
As with any other surgery, DIEP Flap comes with its own set of potential risks. Some complications include but are not limited to the following:
- Bleeding and infection
- Tissue breakdown
- Fat necrosis (lumps in reconstructed breasts)
- Need for revisional surgery
- Body rejection of the flap(s).
Preparing for DIEP Flap Surgery
On your first visit with Dr. Roehl, she will ask you to discuss in detail your medical history, conditions, and the medications you are currently taking. In turn, do not hesitate to ask any questions you have about the surgery.
Preparations are done before the DIEP Flap is essential for a smooth procedure. Patients must stop smoking 2-months prior to the surgery and should eat a healthy diet to build up their immune. (Preparing for your consultation).
DIEP Flap Procedure Length
A typical DIEP Flap breast reconstruction lasts 4-6 hours or 6-10 hours if a Bilateral DIEP Flap. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia. As an outpatient procedure, DIEP Flap patients may need to stay for at least 4 days in the facility for monitoring and recuperation.
After DIEP Flap Surgery
Patients will feel fatigued and sore for several days after the operation and are urged to stay in bed and rest. Numbness of the breasts and nipples during the first few days of recovery is also normal. Swelling and bruising will typically subside 8-weeks post-operation. Patients may also feel tightness in the breasts and donor site(s) as the skin adjusts to its new size and location.
DIEP Flap Surgery Recovery Time
It takes approximately 3-4 weeks before you can resume your normal activities after a DIEP Flap procedure. This is relatively shorter than the recovery period of other flap techniques since the DIEP Flap spares the muscles.
Patients are encouraged to follow post-op recovery instructions and drain log care to expedite their recovery.
DIEP Flap Surgery Scarring
Aside from scars on the breast, expect a scar on your abdominal area that runs from one hipbone to another. Nonetheless, the scar will be positioned low, and easily hidden by the top of your pants and underwear.
Your New Look After DIEP Flap
The best thing about tissue-flap reconstructions like DIEP Flap is that the newly created breast mounds look and feel natural. Patient satisfaction has remained consistently high for the DIEP Flap, proving that the success and popularity of this procedure.
*The content and images on this page are provided with the sole intention of educating potential patients on the procedure discussed above. Results vary per individual and are dependent on our doctor’s consultation prior to the procedure. We strongly recommend undergoing a formal consultation with a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon prior to scheduling and undergoing any surgical or non-surgical treatment.