What is DIEP flap reconstruction?

DIEP flap reconstruction is a procedure in which the breast is reconstructed with the use of a patient's own tissue.

If you are considering breast reconstruction surgery following mastectomy, you may be wondering what your options are. A deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap is a procedure that involves the reconstruction of the breast with the use of blood vessels, fat and skin taken from the abdomen. The DIEP technique is highly effective and generally provides a quicker recovery when compared with other surgical methods. Read on to find out more about DIEP breast reconstruction and what you can expect from the surgery...

Who is suited to DIEP flap reconstruction?

To be a suitable candidate for DIEP flap breast reconstruction, one needs to have sufficient abdominal tissue. During the procedure, tissue (including blood vessels, skin and fat) is harvested from the abdomen and used to reconstruct the breasts. Individuals who have had abdominal surgery before may not be suited to the procedure. We also recommend that patients are not obese and that they do not smoke.

When is DIEP flap surgery performed?

DIEP flap reconstruction is often an ideal procedure for patients who have been through breast cancer treatment and mastectomy and would like to achieve a natural-looking result. It is possible to undergo reconstructive breast surgery at the time of the mastectomy or to wait and undergo surgery at a later date.

In some cases, a tissue expander may need to be placed to make space for the new tissue. A tissue expander works by gradually stretching the muscles and skin in preparation for reconstructive surgery. If your surgeon recommends a tissue expander, it will be placed during your mastectomy and you will have to wait for some time before your reconstruction can be performed.

If you are undergoing breast cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, you may have to wait for up to a year before you can have a DIEP flap reconstruction. Your doctors and surgeon will advise you on the best time to begin the reconstruction process.

What does the surgery involve?

During DIEP flap reconstruction, your surgeon will make an incision across your lower abdomen and remove a flap of skin, blood vessels and fat. This flap will then be transferred to your chest, where it will be constructed into a breast mound. The blood supply in the flap will be connected to the blood vessels situated behind your breastbone or under your arm. The incisions will then be closed.

One of the major advantages of DIEP flap reconstruction is that it preserves the muscles in the abdomen. This reduces the risk of hernia and generally results in a shorter, less painful recovery when compared with other techniques.

How can we help?

Dr Pouria Moradi offers a range of breast reconstruction procedures. DIEP flap reconstruction is Dr Moradi's technique of choice as it does not damage the rectus abdominus muscle and its fascia. In

cases where a patient does not have enough tummy tissue for a DIEP flap procedure, Dr Moradi usually recommends the TUG flap, which makes use of tissue from the upper inner thigh. To find out more about breast reconstruction and the techniques that may be used, please have a look here. If you are interested in arranging a consultation with Dr Pouria Moradi, please don't hesitate to get in touch.