Advanced Reconstruction for Austin, TX and Beyond
A deep inferior epigastric perforator flap (or DIEP flap) from our Austin, TX, breast reconstruction specialists is an advanced breast reconstruction technique that makes use of your own excess abdominal tissue—not an implant—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.
What is a DIEP Flap?
Many options exist for breast reconstruction after mastectomy, and nearly all patients are candidates for some form of breast reconstruction plastic surgery. The decision to reconstruct a breast that has been lost due to breast cancer or the BRCA gene for breast cancer, or that has been damaged by radiation or infection, is personal.
In the DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery procedure, the incision is placed low, much like a tummy tuck, with a secondary benefit of a flatter postoperative abdomen. Your surgeon will then carefully shape the flap to replace the removed breast tissue and transplant it to your chest to reconstruct the breast with living tissue. Your recovery requires three to four days of rest in the hospital to monitor the flap before you are sent home.
Why Choose Austin Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery for DIEP Surgery?
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 that use a woman's own living tissue to restore the breast. As an all-female team, our reconstructive surgeons understand the importance of feeling whole and healthy after breast cancer treatment by reconstructing what has been lost.
Austin Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
- Known for natural-looking aesthetic results in breast reconstruction and cosmetic surgery.
- Elected by peers for inclusion in Texas Monthly's Texas Super Doctors®: Rising Stars listing.
- Reconstructed over 6,000 patients, including more than 2,500 DIEP flap reconstructions.
- 4.9-star average rating over hundreds of reviews for reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.
What are the DIEP Flap Surgery Details?
After you receive general anesthesia from a board-certified anesthesiologist, your surgeon will make the necessary incisions and precise microsurgical steps to transfer healthy, living tissue from the abdomen to the chest. Your surgeon will then sculpt the tissue into a realistic breast mound. The procedure can take four to eight hours, depending on whether the patient has undergone a unilateral (one breast removed) or bilateral (both breasts removed) mastectomy.
Some patients are 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, the nipple will be reconstructed three months after your initial surgery as part of a second touch-up surgery. 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.
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 enhance fullness of the new breasts.
Although most patients are candidates for DIEP flap breast reconstruction, it requires a thorough evaluation by a microsurgeon who is experienced with microvascular flap procedures. Our all-female team of plastic surgeons are all microsurgeons with years of experience in DIEP flap breast reconstruction.
The Power of a Personal Touch
Any reconstruction procedure, including DIEP flap surgery, can raise a lot of questions, which is why our plastic surgeons make themselves available to provide answers during an extended one-on-one consultation. Your surgeon will discuss and explain all options for reconstruction, and use this time to get to know each patient to better understand her reconstructive goals. Creating a connection based on open communication can lead to better outcomes since the patient and the surgeon understand each other to form a collaborative team.
What is the DIEP Flap Recovery Timeline?
Since DIEP flap surgery involves two surgical sites—the abdominal donor site and the chest where a new breast is being built—there are two areas that require healing. After a period of recovery at the surgical center, you will return home for further rest and recuperation.
A short walk or similar light and gentle physical activity is recommended for the second day after the procedure, but a return to typical daily activities should not happen until four to six weeks have passed.
Download Our Breast Reconstruction Post-Operative Care Guides
We've compiled detailed post-operative care instructions to best equip our breast reconstruction patients throughout their recovery process. To ensure the best and safest recovery, your plan encompasses appropriate prescriptions and clear directions towards maintaining your comfort to get you back to normal life and activity as soon as possible. Individual patients respond uniquely, and the type of procedure may differ, but these basic guidelines will help you along your journey.
What Are Other Reconstruction Options?
Besides the DIEP flap, our surgeons offer a range of other breast reconstruction techniques so that every woman can enjoy the results of a procedure best suited to her unique situation. Find out more about the SIEA flap, GAP flap, PAP flap, and LD flap, as well as nipple-sparing breast reconstruction, reconstruction with an implant, and breast implant revision surgery.