DIEP Flap in Washington, D.C.

What is DIEP Flap?

DIEP flap is an autologous breast reconstruction technique utilizing the patient’s own tissue while sparing the muscle. DIEP, standing for the deep inferior epigastric perforator artery in the abdomen, uses fat, skin, and the connective blood vessels in this area to rebuild the breast.

The Benefits of DIEP Flap

DIEP flap offers a natural looking and feeling breast without the use of implants. Because the technique spares the muscle, recovery time is shorter than other autologous techniques. There is also less risk of weakened abdominal muscles, unlike some techniques using a muscle transfer. Taking skin and fat from the area also gives women a flatter abdominal, similar to having a tummy tuck.

Who is a Candidate?

The DIEP flap is favorable for women who want natural results with a shorter recovery period. However, women must have enough abdominal tissue to be used during the transfer. Women who have had a previous abdominal procedure such as a tummy tuck are not candidates for this technique. The DIEP flap technique can only be used once, so further reconstruction would require tissue from another area of the body.

The Procedure

The DIEP flap reconstruction can be performed on the same day as a mastectomy, or at a later time. Anesthesia will be administered for patient comfort during the procedure. After an incision is made from hip to hip, the necessary tissue including skin, fat, and blood vessels will be taken from the lower abdominal. This is then transferred to the breast area to rebuild the breast mound and microsurgery is used to reconnect the blood vessels.

Results and Recovery

Although recovery is shorter than other techniques, patients can still expect some swelling, bruising, and soreness in the breast and abdominal areas. Some loss of sensation can be expected after the procedure, but feeling should return over the course of recovery. It is important to follow all post-op care instructions and restrictions. Patients will also be required to refrain from strenuous exercise for four to six weeks.

After the recovery period, patients can enjoy their newly reconstructed breast. The breast should look similar to the natural breast and any visible scarring should continue to fade with time. Patients can also talk with their surgeon about recreating the appearance of the nipple and areola once fully healed.