DIEP stands for Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator, and DIEP flap refers to a specific type of breast reconstruction technique. This intensive reconstructive surgery removes tissue (skin, fat, and blood vessels) from the lower belly and then uses them to create a new breast. This breast reconstruction procedure in Newport Beach is time and labor intensive but can yield great results generally without the use of synthetic implants. It also tends to tighten the appearance of the abdomen like a “tummy tuck.”
Candidates For DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction
As a form of reconstruction, this procedure is ideal for women recovering from mastectomies, which are themselves the result of breast cancer or another serious health condition. In particular, DIEP flap reconstruction is effective for women who have enough tissue in their lower belly to reconstruct one or both breasts.
On the other hand, DIEP reconstruction may not be an ideal choice for women who:
- Have little abdominal fat or tissue to spare
- Are morbidly obese
- Have narrow or inflexible blood vessels
- Poor medical condition
- Previous abdominoplasty
- Some previous abdominal surgeries that might injure the deep inferior epigastric vessels
Because of the emotional nature of this type of recovery and restorative treatment, it is especially important to work closely with Dr. Garrett A. Wirth to be sure this is the most appropriate form of breast reconstruction for you.
How it Works
This procedure relies on tissue flaps to create new “breasts” or breast mounds after a mastectomy. Any DIEP procedure uses anesthesia to control pain and discomfort. An incision is then made along the bikini line (similar to a tummy tuck) and the required skin, fat, and blood vessels are removed. Unlike other tissue flap techniques, DIEP reconstruction surgeries do not remove any abdominal muscles. This allows for faster recovery times but also makes the cosmetic surgery more challenging and time intensive to perform.
After removing the necessary tissue, Dr. Wirth will transfer it to the chest and shape it into a natural looking, appropriately sized breast. The blood supply for the breast reconstruction can be surgically attached at the chest vessels utilizing very highly technical skills. After these steps are finished, all incisions are sutured. The procedure usually requires about 7 or more hours to complete and longer if both sides are being reconstructed.
What Happens After Surgery?
Although recovery times for a DIEP reconstruction are generally shorter than traditional TRAM reconstructive surgery, you should still expect somewhere around 6 weeks to reach full recovery. During this time, soreness, swelling, and irritation at incision sites are common. Immediately following surgery, your incisions will be properly dressed and bandaged. You may also be given an elastic bandage or support bra to help reduce swelling and support the newly reconstructed breast.
Throughout the recovery period, you will work with Dr. Wirth and his team to ensure that full healing occurs and that the reconstructed breast is aesthetically and functionally successful.
Call us today at (949) 238-6713 to schedule your consultation with our Orange County surgeon. We are committed to helping you feel confident and radiant!