Evaluation of Abdominal Muscle Size and Function after DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction

By: Courtney Floyd

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Patients have many options available for breast reconstruction available today. At PRMA, we believe the DIEP flap represents today’s ‘gold standard’ for reconstruction. Like the more commonly known TRAM flap, the DIEP flap also uses the patient’s lower tummy tissue to reconstruct a breast following a mastectomy. But unlike the TRAM, the DIEP preserves all abdominal muscles.

By saving the abdominal muscles patients experience less pain, enjoy a faster recovery, experience fewer complications (such as hernia or bulging) and can preserve muscle function long term. In fact, a study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery showed there was no measurable loss in abdominal muscle size or function following DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery.

The study analyzed 26 patient who underwent unilateral DIEP flap surgery. Because unilateral DIEP flap only requires the harvest of tissue and blood vessels from one side of the abdomen, the abdominal muscle on the surgical side can be compared to the non-surgical side. The pre-surgery and post-surgery muscle size was compared using computed tomography and the function was evaluated using ultrasound. The study also used the BREAST-Q to evaluate patients’ satisfaction following surgery.

The study showed no significant change in abdominal muscle size or function following surgery. The patient reported BREAST-Q scores also showed a high rating of satisfaction in abdominal well-being, breast satisfaction and surgery experience.

Thanks to advances in breast reconstruction techniques, surgeons can provide patients natural, warm, soft breasts after mastectomy without sacrificing any abdominal muscle or function with DIEP flap reconstruction.

There are many options available for reconstruction today. It is important to evaluate options, the pros and cons of each, and decide what is best for you!

“So here I am, post DIEP flap surgery and all is looking good. I am thankful to PRMA, because you gave me a choice. I can now have the body I want! I've been trying to get that word out not only about DIEP flap but also about PRMA. PRMA has the training and expertise to help women have a choice as to what type of reconstruction they want. I think that is important when all of us facing these options did not have a choice in getting cancer.” - Lisa

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