DIEP which stands for Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator provides the needed tissue for a breast reconstruction while sparing the loss of the fascia and rectus muscles.
Patients who opt for DIEP flap have less post-operative pain, less post-surgical abdominal wall weakness and a reduced chance of the formation of abdominal wall hernia. Loss of strength and potential complications can be reduced through preserving the abdominal muscles.
During a DIEP flap procedure, an incision is made along the bikini line and a portion of fat, skin and blood vessels is taken from the lower half of the belly, moved up to the chest and formed into a breast shape with new circulation. During the procedure no muscle is cut or moved.
The area of the abdomen from which the tissue is removed is usually tightened due to the loss of excess skin. This is commonly known as a tummy tuck.
The tiny blood vessels in the flap are matched to the blood vessels in the chest and reattached under a microscope. The blood vessels in the flap will be the ones to feed the new breast. The DIEP flap reconstruction treatment takes about six to eight hours.
For a single breast reconstruction, approximately one-half of the lower abdominal skin is used. The side where is found less favourable in terms of vessel orientation and vessel size is discarded. For the case of two breasts reconstructions, both lower halves are used with one for each reconstruction.
The breast shaping is usually done before and after the microsurgery is performed. Many issues contribute to the ultimate contour such as;
The artistic sense and technical skill of the surgeon is the most significant factor here. Without these results can be a failure or an aesthetically displeasing outcome.
The nipple areola reconstruction is not done together with the DIEP flap reconstruction but it is usually saved for a later date when all tissue has healed. Secondary revision surgery may be done on the breast so as to improve the symmetry or appearance according to the patient’s body type and desires. Later revisions are sometimes done together with abdominal scar revision.
After the DIEP flap reconstruction surgery you will be admitted in the hospital for a minimum of 5 days in order to be monitored. It will take about 6 to 8 weeks to recover from the procedure and you might wear a compression girdle for up to 8 weeks after the surgery.
It is important to take time to heal since this is a delicate surgery and to seek your doctor’s opinion before resuming any form of exercises or your normal day to day activities.
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