DIEP Breast Reconstruction Surgery
WHAT IS DIEP BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY?
DIEP breast reconstruction (deep inferior epigastric perforator flap) is an advanced microsurgical technique that is used to rebuild the breast lost to mastectomy. Excess living fat tissue from below the belly button is transplanted into the chest to give back volume and breast shape.
This transfer of skin and fat from one area of the body to another is called “free flap reconstruction.” The newer approach to breast reconstruction is much gentler than and now preferred as a first choice by plastic surgeons over older breast reconstruction techniques known as “TRAM” and “Latissimus flaps”, which cut through your muscle and impact strength and stability.
The modern procedures developed and perfected at the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery offer the opportunity to deliver both a restored and preserved breast after mastectomy as well as an overall gentler recovery, protection of strength, and an early return to your active lifestyle.
Learn more about the development of DIEP Flap reconstruction at CRBS and how this procedure can add breast tissue to your chest wall using your own tissue, without harming your lower abdomen.
INNOVATIONS IN RECONSTRUCTIVE FLAP PROCEDURES
Our Center has been performing pioneering work with the DIEP Flap breast reconstruction since 2003.
The APEX Flap℠ procedure is our latest refinement and provides another level of sophistication to the surgical treatment options available to women facing mastectomy.
While there are several choices when it comes to reconstructive breast surgery, DIEP breast reconstruction and the APEX Flap℠ represent the most advanced surgical technology available in breast reconstruction. For women who are very thin, there are additional options, including the Stacked FLAP℠, BODY LIFT Flap®, SGAP Flap, and Hybrid Breast Reconstruction procedures.
This collection of techniques provides a set of natural tissue breast reconstruction options for all body types.
OTHER FLAP PROCEDURES
Other flap procedures and techniques include:
- Latissimus Dorsi Flap
- SIEA Flap
- Free TRAM Flap
WHEN IS DIEP BREAST RECONSTRUCTION USED BY A BREAST SURGEON?
DIEP breast reconstruction is used to recreate a soft breast made entirely of living fat. In almost every case, the DIEP procedure can be done on the same day as mastectomy, which is known as “immediate reconstruction.” For women with a previous mastectomy, the DIEP may be performed at a separate time after a mastectomy. This is known as “delayed reconstruction.”
Almost all women are candidates for immediate reconstruction, so speaking with your team prior to mastectomy about choosing immediate or delayed reconstruction is important.
Occasionally, a “bridging implant” reconstruction is used before DIEP breast reconstruction. This allows women with more advanced breast cancer requiring radiation treatment to benefit from skin sparing, or a Nipple Sparing Mastectomy.
IS DIEP BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY BETTER THAN GETTING A BREAST IMPLANT?
Like any other surgical procedure, the best option for success typically depends on your individual needs, such as desired breast size, amount of excess skin and fat, amount of chest muscle, and multiple other factors.
In some cases, a silicone implant or saline implant could be the best option. Other times, using transferred tissue (from the inner thigh or stomach in most cases) to create new breast skin is a better option.
When you have your initial meeting with the CRBS team, we will discuss a wide range of options that can help you get the most natural breast look possible.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DIEP BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY?
There are several benefits of the DIEP breast reconstructive technique. Rebuilding the breast with soft, warm, living fatty tissue is permanent and doesn’t require maintenance or repeat surgery over time. For women who’ve undergone a mastectomy in the past, the DIEP procedure allows for the avoidance of tissue expanders.
Women who undergo the DIEP breast reconstruction also benefit from an improved abdominal shape, much like a “tummy tuck” abdominal surgery. Using fat from unwanted areas of excess produces a flatter, tighter abdomen as a nice compliment to the newly reconstructed breast.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DIEP VS. TRAM FLAP BREAST RECONSTRUCTION?
An important benefit of the DIEP over the TRAM Flap and other outdated procedures is that the muscle of the abdominal wall is protected and abdominal muscles are preserved. This allows avoidance of artificial mesh placement into the abdominal tissue as well as preventing hernia and long-term abdominal muscle weakness.
To guarantee quality in the care that is used to avoid cutting the muscle, our Center developed the APEX Flap℠ procedure that is used when more blood flow is needed to support the new fat. The ordinary DIEP can require muscle cutting to improve blood flow in the tissue in some situations.
The surgeons at the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery use the APEX Flap℠ in this situation to prevent muscle damage and improve the quality of the operation. This assures the maximum opportunity for a successful procedure, with preserved strength and long-term softness in the new breast.
It is NEVER necessary to convert to a TRAM procedure for any reason.
Digital imaging is used to document the preservation of the muscle wall in the tummy during our procedures. This standard of care elevation is unique to the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery and gives reassurance to our patients that extreme care has been applied to the details of their procedure to provide for their long-term well-being.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF DIEP BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY?
As with any surgery, the risks of surgery can be minimized by carefully following your pre-surgical instructions. If you have other medical problems or factors that increase your risk, your CRBS breast cancer surgeon will work with you to educate you on proper preparation and arrange your clinical care regimen to maximize your safety and proper recovery.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT PRIOR TO MY DIEP BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY?
In most cases, you will be seen in our office 1-2 days prior to your surgery. At that time, we will go over the planned procedure, review consents, answer any questions you may have, and apply any surgical planning markings as may be required.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT ON THE DAY OF MY DIEP BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY?
BEFORE YOUR SURGERY
When you arrive at St. Charles Surgical Hospital, you will be escorted to the preoperative area where you will change into a gown and be given foot coverings. The nurse or anesthesiologist will start an IV so that fluids and necessary medications may be given to you. Family members will be allowed to visit with you in the preoperative area once you are prepared for surgery.
AFTER YOUR SURGERY
After your surgery is complete, you will awaken in the recovery room under warm blankets with a dedicated nursing attendant at your side. You will be carefully monitored and kept comfortable. You will then be transferred to a private inpatient room that is prepared to allow you to rest and recover under the supervision of your attending physician and nurses. One adult caregiver may stay with you overnight during your hospitalization. A fold-out Murphy bed will be integrated into your room for individualized comfort.
Your procedure will be performed in a state-of-the-art operating suite that is part of a fully accredited hospital that has been recognized by the American College of Surgeons for Excellence in care quality. Highly trained professionals using the most modern equipment and techniques will attend to you. In addition to your surgeons, the surgical team includes anesthesiologists, operating room technicians, nurses, and physician assistants.
YOUR RETURN HOME
If you are traveling from out of state or internationally for care with us, your caregiver will need to be with you throughout your stay post-discharge and on the same flight home to assist you at the airport. Your caregiver’s education will be provided by our nursing staff during your time with us and our team is available to you and your assistant 24 hours/day should any questions arise after you are released from the hospital. Your arrangements for assistance after surgery should include an estimated week to ten days of availability from your caregiver.
WE ARE HERE FOR YOU
Be reassured that you are being attended to by some of the most highly skilled and dedicated healthcare providers in the world. Do your best to relax knowing that we are going to take excellent care of you from the moment you enter our facility. Do not hesitate to ask for any special needs you may have.
LEARN MORE ABOUT DIEP FLAP SURGERY AT CRBS
Whether you’re in need of completely new breast implants, nipple reconstruction, flap reconstruction, or a procedure to help prevent breast cancer, our surgeons can help you get your desired results.
Breast cancer patients rely on the expertise of CRBS surgeons, and we don’t take that responsibility lightly. Contact us today to learn more about all the services we offer at our New Orleans and Beverly Hills locations.
Hear From Our Patients
“Due to circumstances I traveled from Montana to New Orleans alone for the procedure. I never felt alone. Everyone made me feel at home. I never felt scared.”