Diep Flap Surgery in Chicago

DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction

At Loren S. Schechter, M.D. Plastic Surgery, our team of surgeons is specially trained in advanced microsurgical techniques, including the highly acclaimed DIEP flap surgery. An evolution of the TRAM flap procedure, the DIEP flap (which stands for deep inferior epigastric artery perforator flap) is a breast reconstruction technique in which the DIEP blood vessels, skin, and fatty tissue are removed from the lower abdomen and transferred to the chest to perform breast reconstruction following mastectomy. The blood vessels connected to the tummy tissue are matched to blood vessels by the breast bone (sternum) or under the arm (axilla). The tissue is then shaped and a new breast is formed. Imaging techniques (i.e., CT scan) may be used before surgery to aid with planning of the DIEP procedure.

DIEP Flap Surgery – Advantages

There are several advantages to DIEP flap surgery over other flap-based breast reconstruction methods. First, by sparing the muscles and connective tissue of the lower abdominal wall, our DIEP flap surgeons are able to lower the risk of hernia formation or bulging following the procedure. And second, use of the DIEP flap generally allows for quicker recovery times and a shorter hospital stay. However, not all women are candidates for the DIEP flap.

DIEP Flap Surgery – Am I a Candidate?

Many women, especially following pregnancy, have sufficient lower abdominal tissue to be a candidate for the DIEP flap. However, the size of the DIEP flap (and, therefore, the size of the reconstructed breast) is limited by the amount of excess tummy/abdominal tissue. For example, very thin women who desire large-size reconstructed breasts may be better served by an alternative donor site (such as the back, buttock or thigh), or an implant-based breast reconstruction. In addition, previous surgery, other medical conditions, or a woman’s individual anatomy may preclude a DIEP flap procedure. Our surgeons will discuss this with you during your consultation to help arrive at a treatment decision which is right for you.

DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction – Immediate vs. Delayed

DIEP flap breast reconstruction may be performed at the same time as mastectomy (immediate breast reconstruction) or at a later date (delayed breast reconstruction).While many women may be candidates for immediate breast reconstruction, not all women are. This may be based on the need for radiation therapy or other medical conditions. Our surgeons will discuss this with you during your consultation to help arrive at a treatment decision which is right for you.