DIEP Flap

What is the DIEP Flap?

The Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator flap consists of skin and fat from the lower abdomen, around and below the belly button, and its blood vessels which is used to reconstruct the breast.

How does the flap reconstruct the breast?

The surgeon will take the skin and fat from the abdomen and transfer it to the chest.  A special microscope will be used to reconnect the blood vessels.  Once this is done, your surgeon will shape the fat into a new breast.

What happens to the abdomen after DIEP?

After transfer of the abdominal skin and fat, the skin is closed much like a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty.

What is the advantage of a DIEP flap?

Other breast reconstructions such as the TRAM flap sacrifice the rectus muscle, the “six pack” muscle, of the abdominal wall.  During DIEP flap surgery, your surgeon will carefully separate the blood vessels to the flap from the surrounding rectus muscle and leave that muscle in place to continue its function.

Is the DIEP flap better than implants?

The DIEP flap results in a breast reconstruction made from your own tissue so it looks and feels natural. Since it is living tissue, there is no implant that could break or needs replacement.  Your surgeon will discuss in detail the options for the best reconstruction for you.

What if I don’t have much abdominal tissue?

There are alternative areas of skin and fat that may be used to reconstruct a breast including the inner thigh and buttock area.  Your surgeon can discuss these options with you.

DIEP flap and mastectomy at same time?

The DIEP flap reconstruction may be performed at the same operation as the mastectomy.  If the mastectomy has already occurred in the past then the DIEP flap reconstruction can be performed as its own operation.  Patients may also elect to convert their prior implant reconstruction to a DIEP flap.  These options may be discussed in detail with your surgeon.

Am I a candidate for DIEP flap?

Many factors are taken into account for any surgery including DIEP flap breast reconstruction.  Additional therapies for breast cancer may affect the timing of breast reconstruction.  Your surgeon will take into account all specific facets of your breast cancer care to create a unique breast reconstruction program for you.

Is the DIEP flap covered by insurance?

A federal mandate signed into law in 1998 provides coverages and protection for patients who wish to have reconstructive surgery following mastectomy. Our office will work with you on an individual basis to ensure your access to the reconstructive procedure you wish to pursue.

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