When a woman undergoes a mastectomy, there are several breast reconstruction options available to her. One is the deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap reconstruction technique. Using this method, a surgeon removes skin and fat from the abdomen and then transplants it to the site of the mastectomy.
This technique is a recent advancement from the tradition transverse rectus abdominus musculocutaneous or TRAM flap. There are several benefits to this technique. Whenever muscle is torn or removed, recovery is usually significantly longer; the DIEP flap procedure doesn’t require the removal of abdominal muscle when transplanting the flap. Since fat and skin are being removed from the abdominal area, the result is a flatter, more contoured abdomen. There is also less potential for developing an abdominal hernia, particularly in bilateral reconstructions. Recovery time for this procedure is quicker than other procedures, and there is less abdominal discomfort as well.
A DIEP reconstruction starts by making incisions into the abdomen to make sure the flap can be transported. The healthiness of the tissue as well as the blood vessels will be determined before any transfer begins. If everything is healthy, the flap will be completely detached from your body, but will not include taking any abdominal muscle. The flap will then be placed on the mastectomy site and carefully reattached to your body using microsurgical techniques.
On the day of the surgery, you will be given anesthesia to ease any discomfort. If you choose to have a reconstruction at the same time as your initial mastectomy, the procedure could last up to 15 hours. However, if you are only undergoing the DIEP reconstruction, the procedure is about four to six hours for one breast and six to eight hours for both breasts. Once you are finished, you are required to stay in the hospital for at least four days following the surgery. After that, doctors advise another two weeks of complete rest before you attempt any physical activity, and another three or more weeks after that before you resume normal activities or anything strenuous. Be sure to be in contact with your plastic surgeon after you leave the hospital to be sure you are healing normally.
For more information about breast reconstruction, call our office at (702) 671-5110 or schedule your appointment online today.
You can also visit BreastReconstructionMatters.com for more information on DIEP reconstruction.