Natural Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Reconstructive breast surgery is an important option for women who have undergone breast cancer treatment that included the removal of breast tissue. Reconstruction can provide these patients with a sense of their return to health and well-being. The DIEP flap can be performed at the time of mastectomy, or weeks to years after mastectomy. It is also extremely successful following prior radiation.
Breasts can be reconstructed either naturally, using your own tissue, or by placing an implant to shape the breast. The all natural method is the preferred type of breast reconstruction performed in the United States today. The version that is ideal for many women is called the DIEP flap, which stands for deep inferior epigastric perforator, named after the main blood vessel that runs through the tissue used to reconstruct the breast.
DIEP Flap Technique
This technique uses only your own skin, fat and blood vessels to reconstruct the breast. The tissue is removed from the lower portion of the abdomen, between the waist and hips. It is then transferred to the breast in order to create a new breast mound.
The DIEP is called a “free” flap because the tissue is completely detached from the belly and then reattached to the chest area. Connecting the blood vessels from the abdominal tissue to the chest blood vessels is delicate work. It requires the use of a microscope during surgery, which is why DIEP is known as microsurgery.
Because no abdominal muscle is removed, most women recover quickly from the DIEP surgery and have a low risk of losing abdominal muscle strength. There is less abdominal wall discomfort because the muscle is not removed.
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