With the advent of microsurgical perforator flaps, this form of reconstruction has revolutionized plastic surgery. Along with them, the application in breast reconstruction has been tremendous. By the replacement of the skin and soft tissue that is removed during the mastectomy with viable, well-vascularized, excess skin and soft tissue from the lower abdomen, a beautiful breast reconstruction may be achieved that is completely your own tissue. This DIEP has gained much notoriety for breast reconstruction today.
The tissue is taken from the lower abdomen, much like that removed during a tummy tuck. Utilizing the excess tissue from this area and hiding the incision low on the abdomen, well-hidden within the panty line, the donor site is an excellent option for borrowing tissue for a breast reconstruction. This skin, fat, and soft tissue, along with its blood supply is taken and moved into the breast area. These small blood vessels are then reattached via assistance of a microscope to vessels in the breast area. This tissue is then shaped and molded to reconstruct an aesthetically pleasing breast reconstruction.
With this new advent of perforator flap techniques, it is the most innovative and state-of-the-art technique used today in breast reconstruction, let alone plastic surgery as a whole. Unlike the traditional way of reconstructing a breast utilizing this tissue (aka TRAM flap), the DIEP spares the muscle of the abdominal wall, by carefully dissecting the blood vessel from within the abdominal musculature and leaving the muscle in place. This muscle-sparing, perforator flap type of reconstruction is beneficial for these reasons. There is less donor site morbidity from the abdomen, since the muscle is left intact. Along with that, there is less postoperative pain. The function of the muscle remains, so abdominal wall integrity remains intact and there is less chance of hernias or bulges, since the muscle remains. These problems are much increased with the conventional TRAM flap, but unlike it, the aforementioned benefits are obtained with the DIEP microsurgical free tissue transfer breast reconstruction.
Unlike conventional TRAM flap reconstructions, use of our refined perforator flap techniques allow for collection of this tissue without sacrifice of underlying abdominal muscles. This tissue is then surgically transformed into a new breast mound. The abdomen is the most common donor site, since excess fat and skin are usually found in this area. In addition to reconstructing the breast the contour of the abdomen is often improved much like a tummy tuck. This well-vascularized flap reconstruction also is also completely your own tissue, and often resembles, moves, looks, and feels more like a natural breast than reconstructions using implants. Other perforator flaps used for breast reconstruction include the SIEA (Superficial Inferior Epigastric Artery), SGAP (Superficial Gluteal Artery Perforator), IGAP (Inferior Gluteal Artery Perforator), and TAP (Thoracodorsal Artery Perforator) flaps, among others.
If you’re interested in an advanced reconstructive procedure as such, very few surgeons have been trained to perform these and even fewer offer these procedures due to its complexity and skill involved. It may be difficult to find an experienced surgeon to perform this type of surgery with many patients, unfortunately, having to travel away to obtain such reconstruction. A few helpful resources to find an experienced DIEP microsurgeon are to search websites or listed below is a database of listed surgeons:
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