DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction
Why DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction?The initials in DIEP stand for the deep inferior epigastric perforator artery, which runs through the abdomen. In a DIEP flap, fat, skin and blood vessels are cut from the wall of the lower belly and moved up to the chest to rebuild the breast. The tissue in a DIEP flap is very much like breast tissue, so it substitutes well. Since the patient’s own tissue is used to construct a new breast, the risk of rejection is decreased. This type of flap reconstruction is the most advanced form available today. DIEP flap breast reconstruction is most often recommended following a mastectomy and works well for individuals who have had radiation. The DIEP flap can replace a breast implant as an alternative for breast reconstructive surgery.
Is DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Right for Me?You may be a good candidate for DIEP flap breast reconstruction if a mastectomy has not left sufficient tissue on the chest to cover or support a traditional breast implant. DIEP flap also works best in patients who have undergone radiation. This surgery brings in new, healthy tissue and skin from the donor site. Generally, the abdominal tissue is used. In some cases, the inner thigh tissue or back/flank tissue can be transferred. DIEP flap breast reconstruction may be considered if you don’t have any other medical conditions that might impair healing. During your initial consultation, Dr. Diaz will discuss all breast reconstruction options with you, and together, you’ll determine the best course of action for your particular situation.
Planning for DIEP Flap Breast ReconstructionYou will have a private, personal consultation with Dr. Diaz prior to making any decisions regarding surgery. It’s important for you to be very open and honest with the doctor in answering his questions regarding your health, previous medical history, your goals and your current lifestyle. Smoking cessation, including all nicotine products, gums, patches and vapor cigarettes, must be stopped a minimum of 3 weeks prior and 3 weeks after your surgery. You are also not allowed to be around any passive nicotine products for 3 weeks after surgery. Dr. Diaz will evaluate your overall health and any risk factors related to pre-existing conditions. He will examine the breasts and take detailed measurements. Photos will be taken to be included in your medical records. He will discuss with you the options available and give you his recommendation for treatment. He’ll also explain any risks involved, potential complications that could arise and the likely results you can expect to see.
Where Will My Surgery be Performed?DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery is performed in the hospital and a brief hospital stay may be included. General anesthesia is used, and the doctor will discuss his recommendations during your initial visit. Any follow-up procedures are usually done on an outpatient basis.
What Happens During DIEP Flap Surgery?During the surgery, a flap of skin and fat is removed from the donor area and used to reconstruct a breast mound. Unlike the TRAM flap, this innovative procedure preserves the abdominal muscle, resulting in less pain and a faster recovery. The risk of complications is also significantly lower. Lastly, there may be the need for additional surgery a few months after the initial DIEP flap to create symmetry of the grafts or to remove the donor skin paddles. This is optional and depends on the patient. The second stage is generally covered by your insurance company.
What is the Recovery from DIEP Flap Surgery?After DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery, you’ll be given a support bra or elastic bandage to wear to minimize swelling and help support the newly reconstructed breast. You may also need to wear an abdominal compression garment. Additionally, you’ll be given medicine to ease the pain. The doctor will provide you with specific post-care instructions on how to care for your incision site, medications you’ll need to take, signs to look for that may require a follow-up visit, and when he’ll want to see you again for a regular post-op follow up. It may take several weeks for the swelling to decrease, and your activities may be restricted during that time. Dr. Diaz will give you exact instructions on how he wants you to take care of yourself. While you’re healing, your incisions need to be kept clean, without excessive force or motion during the healing process.
How Much Does DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Cost?Each individual situation is unique, but many insurance companies provide coverage for breast reconstruction when it is performed under a breast cancer diagnosis. It’s best to check with your particular insurance provider to find out for sure. Cost will be discussed during your consultation. We offer a number of ways to pay, including financing with CareCredit®. If you’re interested in finding out more about the DIEP flap breast reconstruction, contact us to set up a private consultation with Dr. Diaz. Our office is happy to serve residents in and around Mobile, Ocean Springs, Gulfport and the surrounding communities of Mississippi.
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Fax: (228) 396-2664
Michael Diaz MD, FACS
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
936 Tommy Munro Dr.
Biloxi, MS 39532