The DIEP flap is the most advanced form of breast reconstruction available today. It is the preferred technique performed at PRMA.
The DIEP procedure uses the patient's own abdominal skin and fat to reconstruct a natural, warm, soft breast after mastectomy. Unlike the TRAM flap, the DIEP flap preserves all the abdominal muscles. Only abdominal skin and fat are removed similar to a "tummy tuck". Saving the abdominal muscles means patients experience less pain, enjoy a faster recovery, maintain their core strength long-term, and have a lower risk of complications.
The skin and fat below the belly button feels very similar to breast tissue. It is the perfect choice to replace the breast tissue removed by the mastectomy. The blood vessels ("perforators") that keep this skin and fat alive lie just beneath or within the abdominal muscle. A small incision is made in the abdominal muscle to access these vessels.
The prepared tissue ("flap") is then disconnected from the body and transplanted to the chest using microsurgery. The surgeons then shape the tissue to create the new breast.
Most patients are also candidates for sensory nerve reconstruction. This reconstructs the nerves that supply feeling and allows for improved long term sensation in the reconstructed breast.
Patients that have arm lymphedema as a result of previous breast cancer surgery may also be candidates for Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer in combination with the DIEP flap procedure. This involves the transplantation of healthy lymph nodes from the groin to the underarm area (axilla) to replace the lymph nodes removed or damaged by previous axillary surgery. The procedure helps restore lymphatic drainage of the arm and can significantly improve lymphedema.