Study Finds DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction is Safe 6 Weeks After Radiation
By: Courtney Floyd
Is DIEP flap a safe option after radiation?
A recent study published in the Journal of Reconstructive Microsurgery took a closer look at the impact of radiation and its timing on tissue flap breast reconstruction.
The study followed patients who had reconstruction using their own tissue (autologous breast reconstruction). The patients were divided into three groups: no radiation, radiation 6 weeks or less prior to surgery, and radiation 6 months prior to surgery.
It is known radiation can complicate breast reconstruction. Many patients are told they should wait six months to a year after radiation before having flap reconstruction, but this does not necessarily need to be the case. In fact, the study found performing diep flap breast reconstruction within 6 weeks of radiation may be safer compared to waiting six months.
Radiation can damage the patient’s skin and tissues in a variety of ways. The longer the patient waits to have reconstruction, the longer the effects of radiation have to take effect and the greater the degree of fibrosis and scarring.
At PRMA, we have also found performing flap reconstruction sooner is better for some patients.
Performing a tissue flap procedure allows surgeons to remove radiated skin and tissue and replace it with healthy skin and tissue from another part of the body.
We believe using the patient’s own tissue to rebuild the breast is the gold standard in breast reconstruction—especially when radiation is in the mix. 1 in 3 implant reconstructions fail when radiation is part of a treatment plan. With a success rate of over 99%, procedures like the DIEP flap are a much safer option. Patients also report being more satisfied with their results.
Unfortunately, not all patients (such as those who have been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer) are candidates to have surgery so quickly. It is important to discuss all options with your surgeon.