PRMA Plastic Surgery understands that many patients will be nervous or have questions regarding their breast reconstruction. Below are some of our most frequently asked questions for DIEP Breast Reconstruction. While this list may not answer all of your questions please do not hesitate to contact our office and ask to speak with a member of our staff.
How many DIEP flap procedures have you performed?
Our surgeons have performed thousands of microsurgical breast reconstruction procedures, typically performing more than 500 DIEP flap procedures every year.
How closely will the reconstructed breast match my opposite healthy breast?
There will be aesthetic differences between your natural breast and your reconstructed breast, particularly at first. However, patients should not worry about this initially.
Almost always, more than one surgery is required for the most cosmetic results. Revision surgery will be performed a few months after the initial reconstruction to ensure that your breasts are as aesthetically pleasing and matching as possible. If required, nipple-areola tattoing is performed as an additional step in the office under local anesthesia to complete the reconstruction.
Please also remember that most women are not 100% symmetric to begin with. Please visit our gallery to see our patients' before and after breast reconstruction pictures.
How long will my DIEP Flap surgery last?
Breast reconstruction surgery can take from 3-6 hours (not including mastectomy) depending on the type of procedure performed. For instance, a unilateral (one-sided) breast reconstruction will take less time than a bilateral (two-sided) breast reconstruction.
What's your success rate?
Top specialist centers boast a success rate of over 97%. The success rate at PRMA is 99%.
How many microsurgeons will be performing my surgery?
Since the DIEP flap procedure is so technically demanding it is preferable to have two microsurgeons performing the surgery (as is always the case at PRMA) rather than just one. Not only will this ensure you benefit from the expertise of two specially trained surgeons, but it will also significantly cut down the length of the procedure and anesthesia.
Do you have Residents or Fellows?
Some centers have surgeons-in-training known as "residents" or "fellows" that may be helping with your surgery or even performing part of it. This may or may not be something you are comfortable with considering the complexity of the surgery. We do not have residents or fellows at PRMA.
How often do you plan to perform a DIEP flap but convert the procedure to a free TRAM flap during the surgery?
This happens very rarely at PRMA.
How long will the recovery be?
Recovery from DIEP flap breast reconstruction is a gradual process which usually takes 4-6 weeks.
How long will I need to stay in San Antonio if I'm traveling from out-of-town?
Out of town patients will need to stay in San Antonio for about 2 weeks, including the hospital stay.
What accommodation options are available if I'm traveling from out-of-town?
Our office is conveniently located near several hotels with easy access to the Medical Center. We have also partnered with the American Cancer Society and are able to offer reduced/free hotel stays for out-of-town patients. We will be pleased to help you make any arrangements you need. More accommodation details here.
Do you accept insurance? How much will this cost?
Yes, we are in-network for most major US insurance plans. We do NOT balance bill. Costs vary depending on the type of reconstruction surgery chosen and your insurance coverage level of benefits. It is important to speak with a billing coordinator prior to your surgery so you are fully aware of your coverage and patient responsibilities. Our billing coordinators are always available to answer any questions you may have regarding your insurance coverage. You may also find answers to common insurance-related question on our Insurance FAQ
Are there support groups or websites that I can visit?
Yes, in addition to medical support it is important for patients to be able to interact with and draw support from each other. It is our hope that being able to connect with other breast reconstruction patients may lend you some extra support during this time. Our patients have found the following websites to be very supportive and informative:
- PRMA's Breast Reconstruction Community on Facebook
- The PRMA Pink Ladies Support Group
- Dr C's Breast Cancer Reconstruction Blog
- PRMA Breast Reconstruction Blog
- Other reputable message boards, groups and forums
If you have any questions or if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our surgeons please feel free to contact us today.