DIEP Flap Reconstruction
The DIEP flap (Deep Inferior Epigastric artery Perforator) is an ideal option for breast reconstruction surgery because it can produce very natural results using your tissue. Skin, muscle, and blood vessels are taken from the abdomen and shaped into a breast mound that best fits the shape and size you desire.
Dr. Ergun Kocak, Dr. Pankaj Tiwari and Dr. Santosh Kale are considered the top board-certified plastic surgeons in Ohio. They have over 20 years of combined microsurgery experience and perform more than 250 successful breast reconstructions each year.
Insurance Coverage and Cost
DIEP flap reconstruction in Columbus, Ohio, is covered by all health insurance providers under the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998.
This typically includes all associated pre-op appointments and aftercare. Contact us to learn more about the overall process and next steps.
Most patients are suitable candidates for reconstruction using a DIEP flap. Previous abdominal surgeries, such as a hysterectomy and C-section, are typically not an issue. However, some operations, including tummy tuck and hernia repair with mesh, can be limiting.
Other factors, such as smoking and excessive body weight, may pose challenges but are not considered absolute contraindications to surgery. For patients who do not have an adequate amount of tissue on the lower abdomen, other perforator-based flaps (such as the GAP, TUG, or PAP flap) or breast implants are alternative options.
Before & After for DIEP Flap Surgery
DIEP Flap Reconstruction vs. Other Techniques
The DIEP flap procedure is only one of several reconstructive options. Here are some key differences to help you decide which technique is appropriate for you.
DIEP Flap vs. Other Flap Techniques
Compared to other flap methods, reconstructed breasts made from a DIEP flap end up feeling and looking more natural due to the presence of fat and absence of muscle in the replacement of breast tissue.
DIEP Flap vs. Implant Technique
Saline or silicone breast implants are an option for women who do not have much body fat present in the abdomen. They are also the preferred breast reconstruction method if you wish to have immediate reconstruction but still require follow-up cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.
DIEP flap reconstructions are performed under general anesthesia and take 6 – 8 hours to complete.
First, skin and fat tissue with active blood vessels are taken from the abdomen. The blood vessels are often contained in a pedicle and are reattached to blood vessels on the chest with the help of microsurgery. Once blood flow is restored to the flap, it is reshaped accordingly and attached with dissolvable sutures around its perimeter.
Nipple and areola reconstruction follows as requested. The donor area is then closed with dissolvable sutures.
You will wake up with a surgical bra and a compression garment on your midsection. DIEP flap reconstruction requires a 3 – 4 day stay in the hospital, and you may return home once cleared by your doctor.
You need to wear your compression garments until swelling and bruising go down to a manageable level, usually after 6 – 8 weeks. Avoid long showers for one week. Driving and work may be resumed after two weeks. More strenuous physical activities such as the gym or heavy lifting may continue after 4 – 6 weeks, or when you are allowed to by your physician.
If you follow your post-op instructions, your scars will fade into thin white lines over 6 – 8 weeks, easily hidden beneath your underwear. You will find a new sense of balance and confidence thanks to your reconstructed chest, as well as a thinner and slimmer midsection due to the removal of fat and skin.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is DIEP Flap the same as Tummy Tuck?
No. However, the DIEP flap is usually taken from the same areas a tummy tuck would also affect, resulting in a smaller and firmer midsection in addition to reconstructed breasts.
2. What if breast cancer returns after I had undergone breast reconstruction surgery?
Your surgeon will recommend that the flap be removed and reattached at a later time, so that you may undergo chemotherapy to remove any traces of cancer.
According to research, however, DIEP flap procedures are not linked to a higher cancer recurrence rate compared to mastectomy alone.
3. Can breast reconstruction restore sensation to the breasts?
DIEP flap reconstruction can, but the procedure is highly technical and intensive to perform.
Request Your Consultation
To learn more about diep flap reconstruction, you can schedule an appointment online or you can call 855-687-6227
*The information available on this page was created to educate our patients. It is not an alternative for a formal consultation with a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Individual results vary per patient. For more information, we strongly recommend scheduling a consultation with our doctors.