Achieve Safe and Effective Breast Reconstruction With a DIEP Flap in Austin

A breast cancer diagnosis brings with it many challenges, and for many women, it is the most difficult experience of their lives. For women who undergo a mastectomy or lumpectomy, losing the volume and shape of their breasts can often impact their self-confidence and make them feel like they no longer appear feminine. For these reasons, breast reconstruction is an important part of the breast cancer treatment process. At Austin Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, our expert reconstructive surgeons offer a safe and effective method for breast reconstruction known as a DIEP flap procedure.

What Is a DIEP Flap?

A DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap is an advanced breast reconstruction technique that makes use of your own excess abdominal tissue to create your new breast without removing any underlying muscle or damaging your motor nerves. The advantage of a DIEP flap is a breast made of healthy, soft, living tissue that will heal, with no implant that would eventually need to be replaced. The reconstructed breast looks, feels, and moves like a natural part of your body—because it is.

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DIEP Flap Before & After

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What to Expect During the DIEP Flap Procedure

Before your DIEP flap procedure at Austin Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, you’ll first sit down for a private consultation with one of our expert reconstructive surgeons. You and your surgeon, in communication with your oncologist, will work together to determine if a DIEP flap is the ideal breast reconstruction technique for your unique situation. Your surgeon will listen to your goals and concerns and will work in advance with your oncologist and your breast cancer surgeon to develop a safe treatment plan that fits your body type and lifestyle. Our plastic surgeons are skilled aesthetic breast reconstruction surgeons, adept at both traditional implant techniques and advanced breast reconstruction techniques, such as the DIEP flap procedure. On the day of your procedure, you will be administered general anesthesia by a board-certified anesthesiologist. Your surgeon will then make the necessary incisions and precise microsurgical steps to transfer healthy, living tissue from the abdomen to the chest. They will then sculpt the tissue into a realistic breast mound based on your unique treatment plan.

Nipple Reconstruction

Some DIEP flap patients are also candidates for a nipple-sparing mastectomy. For these patients, the nipple can be preserved, and the DIEP flap can be placed underneath the skin to replace the volume lost. If the nipples must be removed, they will be reconstructed three months after your initial DIEP flap surgery as part of a second touch-up procedure. Three-dimensional areola tattooing is also available in the office to add color to the areola and the appearance of texture to the reconstructed nipple.

Alternative DIEP Flap Methods

If you are very thin or if the size demand of your reconstructed breast requires more tissue, it may be necessary for your surgeon to perform a bipedicle DIEP or stacked DIEP flap reconstruction, in which flaps of fat and skin are taken from both sides of the abdominal area to make a single larger breast. Alternatively, a slim patient who undergoes a bilateral mastectomy and has an immediate DIEP flap reconstruction of both breasts can have fat graft injections at the time of the second-step nipple reconstruction surgery to improve the contour and fullness of the new breasts.

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Recovery After a DIEP Flap Procedure

After your DIEP flap procedure, you’ll need to stay at the hospital or surgical center for around three to four days before returning home. Because the procedure features two surgical sites, both your abdomen and breasts will need to heal. You will likely be given one or more compression garments to wear for several weeks following the surgery. You will experience swelling, bruising, and soreness, and your surgeon will be able to prescribe pain medication if necessary. During your recovery, it’s important to do the following to ensure a smooth healing process:

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat nutritious foods
  • Take light walks around the house once you feel up to it
  • Avoid any strenuous activities or heavy lifting

Most patients are able to start easing back into their normal routines after around three to four weeks, but you should wait at least six to eight weeks to engage in more strenuous physical activities.

Who Is a Good Candidate for a DIEP Flap Procedure?

If you’re seeking breast reconstruction after a breast cancer diagnosis and have excess abdominal tissue, you could be a good candidate for a DIEP flap procedure in Austin with our team. This reconstruction method is often a good choice for women who want their reconstructed breast(s) to feel and look more natural than implants.

However, it’s important to understand that flap procedures are more complex and invasive than implant reconstruction. To determine if you’re a good candidate for a DIEP flap procedure, your microsurgeon will discuss treatment options with you and communicate with your oncologist and breast cancer surgeon.

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Why Choose Austin Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery for Your DIEP Flap in Austin?

Any reconstruction procedure, including DIEP flap surgery, can raise a lot of questions, which is why our plastic surgeons at Austin Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery make themselves available to provide answers for our patients at all times. Our experienced, award-winning surgeons believe that creating a connection based on open communication can lead to better outcomes by allowing the patient and surgeon to form a collaborative team. Our team will work closely with you and your oncologist to ensure that your breast reconstruction goes smoothly and provides the life-changing, natural-looking results that you deserve. To learn more or schedule your initial consultation, contact us today.

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