The SIEA flap (also known as the SIEP flap) is very similar to the DIEP flap procedure. Both techniques use the lower abdominal skin and fatty tissue to reconstruct a natural, soft breast following mastectomy.
The main difference between the SIEA flap and the DIEP flap is the artery used to supply blood flow to the new breast. The SIEA blood vessels are found in the fatty tissue just below skin whereas the DIEP blood vessels run below and within the abdominal muscle (making the surgery more technically challenging). While the surgical preparation is slightly different, both procedures spare the abdominal muscle and only use the patient's skin and fat to reconstruct the breast.
As with the DIEP procedure, patients receive an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) at the same time as an added benefit to SIEA flap breast reconstruction. Sensory nerve reconstruction can also be performed in most patients. This can significantly improve long term sensation in the reconstructed breast.