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. Unlike the TRAM flap, both the SIEA and DIEP flap procedures preserve all the abdominal muscles.
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. While the surgical preparation is slightly different, both procedures spare the abdominal muscles and only use the patient's skin and fat to reconstruct a warm, soft 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 the return of feeling in the reconstructed breast.
Though the SIEA is similar to the DIEP, it is used less frequently since the arteries required are generally too small to sustain the flap in most patients. Less than 20% of patients have the anatomy required for this procedure. Unfortunately, there are no reliable pre-operative tests to show which patients have the appropriate anatomy. The decision as to which type of reconstruction to perform is therefore made intra-operatively by the plastic surgeon based on the patient's anatomy.
- The SIEA flap is very similar to the DIEP flap
- The SIEA flap uses the lower abdominal skin and fatty tissue to reconstruct a natural, warm, soft breast after mastectomy
- The main difference between the SIEA flap and the DIEP flap is the artery used to supply blood flow to the new breast
- Like the DIEP flap, the SIEA flap preserves all the abdominal muscles
- Sensory nerve reconstruction can also be performed in most patients
- Less than 20% of patients have the necessary anatomy to make them candidates for the SIEA procedure
- To learn if you are a SIEA flap candidate or to schedule a consultation, please contact us here or call us at (800) 692-5565.