TRAM flap breast reconstruction uses a section of your own abdominal muscle, fat and skin to rebuild breasts following mastectomy. Like all flap-based procedures, the TRAM allows you to avoid having breast implants placed – some women prefer a breast reconstruction using only natural tissue. You may also be a good candidate to have a flap procedure combined with breast implants.
At The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery, board-certified plastic surgeons Dr. Jeremy Williams and Dr. Christopher Williams offer the most advanced reconstruction techniques, including flap procedures. Although some women may be good candidates for the TRAM, our plastic surgeons prefer the DIEP flap, which offers ideal results and state-of-the-art surgical reattachment.
What is TRAM Flap Reconstruction?
TRAM stands for "Transverse Rectus Abdominus Muscle." The TRAM flap is an older autologous method, but some women are still good candidates for it.
The TRAM is a section of skin, fat and rectus abdominus (major abdominal) muscle that is relocated to the chest wall. It is a pedicle technique, so the blood supply is tunneled intact from the grafting location to the chest.
Our plastic surgeons prefer the DIEP flap procedure, of which they have performed over 500 thus far. The TRAM flap has one main advantage and one significant disadvantage:
- Cosmetic benefit. The TRAM flap is not a cosmetic procedure, but it does happen to have certain cosmetic benefits, namely a slimming effect on the tummy area.
- Muscular drawback. The TRAM flap takes a very important muscle in the abdomen in an effort to protect and provide a blood supply to the tissue relocated in the breast. A potential drawback is that the woman may be left with very weak abdominal muscles, and she may be at a much higher risk for abdominal bulging and hernia formation.
Even with this drawback, some women can be good candidates for the TRAM. The only way to know for sure is to consult our experienced plastic surgeons. You must have extra tissue, skin and fat in the lower abdomen for the TRAM flap to be an option. Our experienced plastic surgeons will also make sure you understand all of the pros and cons of the TRAM and that you can compare it to your other breast reconstruction options.
Addressing the Drawbacks of the TRAM Flap
As the primary disadvantage of the TRAM is the loss of muscle from the abdomen, our plastic surgeons prefer a flap that conserves as much of the muscle as possible while still using the fat, skin and blood supply. Although a TRAM flap provides a tummy tuck effect, it can make your abdominal muscles weak. The DIEP flap is the answer to the drawbacks of the TRAM.
The DIEP flap is also taken from the abdominal area, but our plastic surgeons are experienced in advanced "perforator" techniques that allow them to leave the surrounding muscle intact. The perforator method is muscle-sparing, and involves using microsurgery to dissect and harvest the blood supply while conserving the abdominal musculature. Like the TRAM, the DIEP flap provides a tummy slimming effect without removing important abdominal muscle. Dr. Christopher Williams and Dr. Jeremy Williams were among the first plastic surgeons to offer DIEP flaps in this region and have performed several hundred thus far.
To learn more about the TRAM flap procedure in Colorado and other types of flap-based breast reconstruction, please call The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery, at (720) 457-4461, to arrange a consultation. Our plastic surgery center is located in Lone Tree, CO, and we are proud to serve women from across the entire region, including Denver and the surrounding areas.