DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Following Mastectomy

Published on August 18, 2007 in General


The DIEP flap represents the new gold standard in breast reconstruction.The DIEP flap procedure was first described in the early 1990’s and uses a patient’s own abdominal tissue to reconstruct the breast after mastectomy without the sacrifice of any of the abdominal muscles.

This procedure is similar to the free TRAM flap but only requires the removal of skin and fat. However, unlike with the TRAM procedure NO MUSCLE is sacrificed. The blood vessels required to keep the tissue alive lay just beneath or within the abdominal muscle. Therefore, a small incision is made in the abdominal muscle in order to access the vessels.

After the skin, tissues and blood vessels (collectively known as the “flap”) have been dissected, the flap is transplanted and connected to the patient’s chest using microsurgery. The surgeons then shape the flap to create the new breast. Remember, even though an incision is made in the abdominal muscle NO abdominal muscle is removed or transferred to the breast. As a result, patients experience less pain postoperatively, enjoy a faster recovery, and maintain their abdominal strength long-term.

Many women who undergo this form of reconstruction enjoy the added benefit of a flatter abdomen, with results that mimic a “tummy tuck” procedure. The risk of abdominal bulging and hernia is also very small, much smaller than with the TRAM flap method of breast reconstruction.

Travel may be involved for some women seeking DIEP flap reconstruction as only a handful of plastic surgeons offer the procedure. Patients still need to be encouraged to research this option however due to the overwhelming benefits it provides over the alternative techniques. Some insurance companies may still cover the procedure for out-of-network physicians following the appropriate pre-authorization process.

Minas T Chrysopoulo, MD
Plastic, Reconstructive & Microsurgical Associates (PRMA)
9635 Huebner Road
San Antonio, TX 78240

Tel: (210) 692-1181
Fax: (210) 692-7584