The surgical removal of a breast, also known as mastectomy, can be a life-saving procedure for survivors of breast cancer. Unfortunately, mastectomy often leaves patients feeling incomplete and insecure. Breast reconstruction surgery can allow breast cancer survivors to recover an important part of their womanhood by restoring the appearance of the breast.
DIEP is an advanced free-flap breast reconstruction technique that uses the patient's own body tissues. It is named after the deep inferior epigastric perforator, the blood supply for the tissue flap that is transferred from the abdomen to the new breast during surgery. This is done in combination with a breast implant. It is one of several breast reconstruction procedures that are performed at Dr. Feledy's Virginia and Maryland plastic surgery practice.
FAQ About DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction
Am I a good candidate for breast reconstruction?
Patients who have undergone a mastectomy often pursue reconstructive surgery to regain the beautifully contoured breast that was taken by surgery. DIEP flap breast reconstruction is not recommended for patients who:
- are obese
- smoke cigarettes
- suffer from psychological instability
- have had previous surgery on the abdomen
When should I consider this surgery?
Breast reconstruction can often be performed at the same time as mastectomy. Other women may choose to wait until they heal from the mastectomy and additional cancer treatments.
Should I use a silicone or saline implant?
Flap reconstruction techniques almost always require a breast implant to complete the appearance of the breast. Saline implants, which are filled with a saltwater solution, can be filled to varying amounts, while silicone implants feel more natural and are filled with silicone gel. The choice between different types of implants is important and should be discussed with your surgeon.
What happens during the surgery?
After anesthesia has been administered, Dr. Feledy will surgically remove tissue from your abdomen and graft it to the breast site. He will then place a breast implant to create a breast mount. After the structures of the new breast are in place, he will use techniques that reconstruct the nipple and areola, and suture the incisions.
What are the risks of DIEP flap breast reconstruction?
All surgeries carry a measure of risk that can be minimized by a qualified surgeon. The risks of this procedure include bleeding, infection, poor healing of incisions, and anesthesia complications. Be sure to discuss these with your doctor during your consultation.
What happens after the surgery?
Dr. Feledy may place a temporary fluid drainage tube under the skin. Gauze or bandages are applied to your incisions, and you will receive an elastic bandage or support bra to minimize swelling and unnecessary movement. Healing will continue over the course of a month as swelling decreases and the breast shape improves. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions and have regular follow-ups to verify the health of your new breast.
What results can I expect?
Patients should know that reconstructed breasts will not have the same appearance or feel as the old breast. Faint scars will always be visible wherever surgical incisions have been made. Most women feel that these are a small price to pay when considering the physical and emotional benefits of breast reconstruction.
Schedule a Consultation to Learn More
If you have received a mastectomy or lumpectomy, breast reconstruction surgery can restore a part of yourself that was stolen by cancer. Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jules Feledy has more than 15 years of experience in reconstructive surgery. Our offices are conveniently located in the Washington D.C. suburbs near Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Arlington. Virginians can call our Stafford office at 540-891-0040, while Marylanders can reach our Chevy Chase office at 301-654-5666.