Breast Reconstruction: Pros and Cons of the DIEP Flap Procedure
One of the most advanced methods of surgery available today after a mastectomy is the DIEP flap reconstruction technique. It’s a great way to rebuild tissue after the effects of breast cancer have taken their toll. However, each patient should carefully weigh the pros and cons before making a decision about this procedure.
DIEP stands for deep inferior epigastric perforator, which is a long phrase to describe the type of tissue used in the new flap. This surgery uses donated tissue from the patient’s own abdominal region to create a flap of skin for the reconstructed breasts, specifically the tissue located below the rectus abdominis. An incision is first made along the hips and pubic bone, and the abdominal skin is lifted from the stomach area.
None of the muscle is removed, just some of the blood vessels and surrounding fat deposits. Those blood vessels then connect with blood vessels closer to the region and the tissue forms in mounds under the skin. The skin is then pulled down and the incision is closed.
What are the benefits?
This procedure essentially includes a tummy tuck, so women who undergo DIEP breast reconstruction can enjoy the benefits of a firmer, slimmer abdomen as a result of the surgery. This operation also allows for faster recovery in abdominal strength than some of the other procedures available.
Recovery has also been shown to be less painful overall than other techniques. Another nice benefit of this method is that all the tissue is naturally from the patient’s own body; nothing foreign or synthetic is used.
What are the drawbacks?
The DIEP breast flap is not the right surgery for everyone. For those who are good candidates and undergo the surgery, one drawback they will face is the resulting larger “bikini line” scar, although it is true that this scar will usually be well hidden by all clothing.
It is also important to consider that this type of reconstruction can only be done once. So if only one breast needs to be reconstructed, if the other one ever needs to be removed, another means of reconstruction will need to be used on it.
DIEP flap breast reconstruction has some serious issues to consider, but in many ways it is a superior method of reconstructive surgery for those suffering loss after cancer.