Understanding the Stages of DIEP Flap Reconstruction

Board-Certified Plastic Surgeons Serving Denver, Lone Tree, Colorado & Nationwide

Posted: July 12, 2018

The DIEP flap technique is a method of autologous breast reconstruction, meaning your own tissue is used to reconstruct one or both of your breasts. This muscle-sparing technique offers women natural, long-lasting results without the use of breast implants. Less than 5% of surgeons in the United States perform this intricate procedure, and the board-certified reconstructive surgeons at The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery are proud to be among them.

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or high-risk factors and are considering breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, it is important to know what you can expect from the DIEP flap procedure.

When Can DIEP Flap Reconstruction Be Performed?

The timing of your DIEP flap procedure will involve many factors including your goals for reconstructive surgery and the details of your cancer. Our surgeons will work with you and your oncology team to determine the best timing for your reconstruction. The number of stages that your DIEP flap procedure can be completed in depends on what timing is right for you after your mastectomy.

Your options for breast reconstruction timing include:

  • Immediate breast reconstruction: During immediate breast reconstruction, your DIEP flap procedure is performed by our reconstructive surgeons right after your general surgeon performs your mastectomy.
     
  • Delayed breast reconstruction: With delayed reconstruction, you can undergo the DIEP flap procedure months or even years after your mastectomy is performed. This timing is often preferred for patients who need chemotherapy or radiation, as these treatments may have an adverse effect on the reconstruction.
     
  • Staged breast reconstruction: With a staged reconstruction, our reconstructive surgeons will place a tissue expander immediately after your mastectomy. This expander will preserve the shape of your breast during chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Your DIEP flap procedure can be performed four to six months after radiation is complete.

The DIEP Flap Procedure

If you had a tissue expander placed during your mastectomy, it will be removed at the time of your breast reconstruction surgery. During the DIEP flap procedure, a flap of tissue is removed from your abdomen and relocated to your chest by reconnecting the veins and arteries. Our surgeons will close the remaining abdominal skin and create your new breast with the removed tissue.

By taking tissue from your lower abdominal area, the DIEP flap technique provides body contouring results similar to a tummy tuck. Since the breast is recreated with your tissue, the results often look and feel more natural than implants.

After your procedure, you will be moved to a recovery area. Our state-of-the-art surgical center, Park Meadows Outpatient Surgery, is equipped to offer you a comfortable, private, and safe overnight stay.

Second Stage Surgeries  

The aesthetic outcome of your DIEP flap procedure can often be improved with additional breast revisions. These adjustments are a normal part of the breast reconstruction process and are performed after you have fully recovered from your DIEP flap procedure.

Surgeries and techniques to provide a natural breast appearance include:

  • Breast lift
  • Breast reduction
  • Fat grafting
  • Nipple reconstruction
  • Areola pigmentation

Our surgeons will work with you to determine which procedures can enhance the results of your DIEP flap procedure.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

To learn more about the DIEP flap procedure and your options for breast reconstruction, please call 720-457-4461 to schedule a consultation with our experienced reconstructive surgeons. At The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery, we proudly welcome women from Denver, Lone Tree, and nearby areas of Colorado.