DIEP Flap Specialist
Being diagnosed with breast cancer is a scary and overwhelming experience, but it’s important for you to know that you have options that can restore your breasts and femininity, should you wish. At Lift Plastic Surgery in Houston and Webster, Texas, Shitel Patel, MD has extensive experience using a DIEP flap technique, which is an innovative way to recreate your breasts using your own tissue. If you’d like to explore your options in breast reconstruction, call or use the online scheduling form to book a consultation.
How does breast reconstruction work?
All too often, women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are unaware of their options once the cancer is removed. It’s understandable that the top priority is to eliminate the cancer, but by understanding your breast reconstruction choices beforehand, you can save considerable time by combining your cancer care and your reconstruction procedures.
The plastic surgeons at Lift Plastic Surgery are committed to getting you the right care during this difficult time and they can coordinate with your breast cancer team to achieve the best possible outcome.
To that end, the doctors at Lift Plastic Surgery work with your breast surgeon and oncologist to come up with a treatment plan that’s right for you. Your reconstructive options depend on the specifics of your cancer, what type of surgery you need, and whether you need any additional treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation.
Once a treatment plan is in place, you can expect that you’ll need several breast reconstruction operations before you reach your desired result.
What is a DIEP flap reconstruction?
A DIEP flap, which stands for deep inferior epigastric flap, is an autologous reconstruction technique that uses your own tissue to create one or both of your breasts.
To do this, the surgeons at Lift Plastic Surgery turn to a donor area on your body with enough fat and skin to make a breast, which is also connected to a good blood supply. This tissue is called a “flap.”
In a DIEP flap, your surgeon takes the tissue from your abdomen, much like with a tummy tuck procedure, and moves it to your chest, where they connect the arteries and veins in the flap to the arteries and veins in your chest in order for the flap to live in its new position.
When your doctor removes the skin from your abdomen, they leave your abdominal muscles intact, and only remove the blood vessels, extra fat, and skin. This decreases the risk of postoperative deformity and hernia, and maintains the strength of your abdominal wall.
To form your breast, the doctors shape the tissue and connect it to your chest, which is an incredibly precise and labor-intensive procedure, often taking the better part of the day. Sometimes the doctors are able to perform the surgery at the same time as your mastectomy. More often, however, your reconstruction needs to wait until the final pathology of your removed breast tissue.
What is the recovery like after a DIEP flap reconstruction?
After surgery, you spend two to five days in the hospital under the watchful eyes of your doctors at Lift Plastic Surgery. They vigilantly monitor the blood supply to the flap and make sure there are no complications.
When you go home, you have drains in your abdomen and breast(s) to prevent fluid buildup. You should expect some discomfort, mainly in your abdomen, for several weeks, and you won’t be able to stand up straight until your abdominal skin stretches out.
You need to limit all pressure to your chest for several weeks, and limit your activity for four to six weeks to allow the flaps to heal.
How many surgeries do I need?
Most women need several surgeries to get to their goals. Generally, the doctors at Lift Plastic Surgery perform a second surgery several months after the first, once your swelling has decreased and your new breast shape has settled.
During this procedure, your doctor may perform some or all of the following:
Tweak your breast shape
Revise your abdominal scar
Use liposuction and fat grafting to reshape your waist
To learn more about the steps of a DIEP flap reconstruction, call Lift Plastic Surgery or fill out the online booking form to schedule a consultation.