From an interview with
Dr. Dustin Eck
McLeod Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Women who’ve lost a breast or breasts to cancer now can have their breast rebuilt, using their own tissue with an added benefit – a tummy tuck. McLeod Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon Dr. Dustin Eck describes this procedure.
Here’s a summary of Dr. Eck’s remarks:
A DIEP flap – a deep inferior epigastric perforator flap — is an advanced microsurgical technique that’s used for reconstructing a breast. In patients that have undergone a mastectomy for breast cancer in which the breast tissue has been removed, it’s a way of taking the patient’s own tissue and recreating the breast. It’s called a “microsurgery” operation, because we do part of the operation underneath the microscope using small, specialized instruments and hooking up blood vessels that are usually less than a few millimeters in size.
The flap is taken from the patient’s abdominal tissue and brought up to the chest where the blood vessels are reconnected, bringing life to the flap tissue.
Women that decide to undergo the DIEP flap can either have this done on the day of their mastectomy, called an immediate reconstruction. Patients that require some additional treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy, may elect to have this done at a separate operation after they’ve recovered from their mastectomy and undergone their additional treatment. This is called a delayed reconstruction.
Some benefits of the DIEP flap are reduced postoperative pain, compared to other types of breast reconstructive procedures. There’s a lower incidence of abdominal wall hernias or abdominal-related pain, compared to some other flap reconstructions. And since the patient’s own abdominal tissue is used, it grows and changes with the patient over time. It feels more like a natural breast. If she’s only had a mastectomy on one side, it’s easier to match the shape, size and feel. Additionally, it reduces the chance of needing other operations once the patient’s completed their reconstruction. Whereas, with implants that aren’t designed to last forever, may need to be changed at some point in the future.
One additional benefit of the DIEP flap procedure is that the patient almost gets a tummy tuck procedure. We’re removing some excess tissue from the abdomen to reconstruct the breast. It does leave the patient with a more flattened, better contoured abdomen.
Find a Plastic/Reconstructive Surgeon near you.