Long Term Abdominal Strength Post DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction
By: Courtney Floyd
What is the long-term impact of DIEP flap breast reconstruction on abdominal strength?
Many patients are initially concerned that having DIEP flap breast reconstruction will negatively impact abdominal muscle strength. This is a common misconception.
Older procedures, like the TRAM flap, use a portion of abdominal muscles which can increase a patient’s risk of abdominal hernia and can impact core strength. However, the TRAM procedure has been replaced by the DIEP flap procedure as today’s gold standard for breast reconstruction.
The DIEP flap uses skin and fat from a patient’s lower tummy to reconstruct a warm, soft, natural breast after a mastectomy. ALL abdominal muscles are spared. Patients benefit from a faster recovery, maintain core strength and have a significantly reduced risk of abdominal complications such as hernia or “bulging.”
A study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal evaluated the long-term impact of muscle-sparing abdominal flap breast reconstruction options on abdominal muscle function and strength. Results showed patients reported “significant improvements in long-term quality of life across key domains of physical and mental health with little functional impairment and no long-term differences.”
Maintaining core strength and long-term quality of life is something we see reflected in our patients’ lives as well. “I’m thankful that I am able to maintain my busy, active lifestyle with my family following my delayed DIEP flap surgery from 2016. My biggest concerns when I opted for this type of reconstruction was would I be able to care for my young family and run my nonprofit, Overcomers. I am happy to share that I am doing what I love and have moved forward in confidence with zero concerns about my mobility or restrictions,” shares Genny.