DIEP Flap: The Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) Flap is one of the most current and state-of-the-art methods to elegantly reconstruct a breast and limit the damage to the donor site. It is a "muscle-sparing" technique and can be a "nerve-sparing" technique as well.
This technique uses the same abdominal skin and fat that used in a TRAM Flap and is the same tissue that is removed in a standard "tummy tuck." The significant difference between a DIEP Flap and the TRAM Flap is that the DIEP Flap saves all the rectus abdominis muscle that the TRAM Flap removes. It significantly reduces the trauma to the abdominal donor site and spares the abdominal muscles. The skin and fat of the abdomen around the belly button is relocated onto the chest to reconstruct the breast.
This Perforator-Based Microsurgical Breast Reconstruction is usually a slightly longer procedure because dissecting the blood vessel through the muscle is difficult and takes a high degree of skill. This extra time is worth the effort because it saves the patient’s abdominal muscles, which helps to speed recovery and prevent long-term donor site/abdominal weakness.
Only approximately 60 surgeons across the United States perform this operation, less than 5% of all plastic surgeons. It is the only breast reconstruction surgery where there is a possibility to reconstruct the nerves that go to the breast skin.
Sometimes the DIEP Flap is used when a patient elected to have implant-based breast reconstruction in the past. The implants, over time, may need to be removed for a variety of reasons, including just a personal decision by the patient. After these implants are removed, a DIEP Flap and subsequent breast shaping surgeries can be performed. See our Before & After Gallery, which includes photos of patients who have elected to have their implants removed and autologous tissue breast reconstruction later.
The DIEP Flap is the preferred method for Autologous Breast Reconstruction performed by the surgeons of The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery.
Who Is the Best Candidate for DIEP Flaps?
- Patients who desire immediate or delayed breast reconstruction
- Patients with few serious medical problems who desire a breast reconstruction using their own skin and fat
- Patients who want less risk of abdominal weakness or bulging
- Patients who have extra tissue, skin and fat, in their lower abdomen and desire a better abdominal contour similar to a tummy tuck
- Patients with the emotional strength and support group to be able to cope with an occasional set-back or loss of the Flap (less than 3% risk of flap loss)
- Patients who understand that extra "investment" in using their own skin and fat is likely to produce a more natural, longer lasting result than an Implant-Based reconstruction
To learn more about Microsurgical Breast Reconstruction and DIEP Flap reconstruction surgery, contact our board certified breast surgeons at The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery in Lone Tree, CO serving Denver and all of Colorado. Schedule a consultation online to arrange a tour of our facility, or call (720) 457-4471 if you have any further questions.