Latissimus Flap Breast Reconstruction: What to Expect
After a Mastectomy, many women choose to undergo breast reconstruction. Breast reconstruction methods can range from implants to using the patient’s tissue (referred to as a “flap”) to recreate the affected breast. There are many different types of flap procedures ranging from using tissue from the abdomen, the thighs, buttock, and back. In this article, we will discuss using the upper back tissue for reconstruction. This procedure is called the Latissimus Dorsi flap, or the LAT flap.
What Is It?
A Latissimus Flap Breast Reconstruction is a flap procedure that usually takes three to four hours to perform. This flap harvests the necessary tissue below your shoulder blade towards the middle of your back, including some of the latissimus dorsi muscle, hence the procedure’s name. The muscle, skin, and fat harvested from your back is tunneled forward towards the breast, the blood vessels are kept intact, minimizing the risk of failure, and while the skin from the back is usually a little different than that of the breast, the results tend to look very natural.
Who Is A Good Candidate?
Most patients considering using their own tissue are good candidates for this procedure. However, abdominal or thigh tissue is typically preferred. Patients typically move forward with the LAT flap is she does not have sufficient fat tissue in the abdomen area or has had previous failed flap reconstruction and needs a different approach. Sometimes not having access to a surgeon that can perform the type of microsurgery required for other free flap procedures can be a main reason to use this procedure.
What to Expect
There are several things you should know before deciding to undergo this procedure. The fat around the latissimus muscle is usually harder than the breasts, and some patients report the reconstructed breast feeling a bit tighter.
Additional procedures such as fat grafting or the addition of implants may be required to achieve desired breast size.
The latissimus flap breast reconstruction is not entirely without risks. In unusual cases, the reconstructed tissue may not receive sufficient blood flow causing it to die. If the fat does not receive the required circulation, you may develop lumps, these are just fat and not cancer, but it can be a scary prospect after having a mastectomy to find a lump in your reconstructed breast.
Another risk to keep in mind is muscle weakness. In this procedure, you harvest some muscle tissue from your back and use it for the reconstruction. Whenever you take muscle from an area, it may become weaker. Some strength or even function may decline, and specific movements like twisting and lifting heavier items may become difficult. Physical therapy can help with these problems and majority of patients go on to have full range of motion and can perform activities like swimming and tennis normally after healing.
Expect about four to six weeks of recovery from a latissimus dorsi reconstruction. You should keep the incisions dry and clean and may need some assistance given that one of those incisions is on your back. Keep in mind that you should avoid lifting heavy objects or any strenuous activity for some time to allow your muscle room to heal.
Talk to PRMA About Your Options
If you have any doubts or questions about what to expect from a latissimus dorsi reconstruction or any other related surgery, please call PRMA Plastic Surgery and speak to a surgeon.
With 25 years of experience, PRMA Specializes in advanced microsurgical breast reconstruction, restoring breast sensation after mastectomy, and lymphedema surgery. To schedule a consultation please call us at 800-692-5565 or complete our free virtual consultation form HERE.
It is a great honor to be part of a team with such a rich tradition of excellent patient care, shares Dr. Andrew Gassman, the newest surgeon to join the PRMA team. Years and years of procedure fine tuning with individualized care means our patients truly benefit from both efficiency and experience.