The second type of breast reconstruction we offer at our Plymouth office is deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap surgery. The deep inferior epigastric artery (DIEA) runs through the abdomen, branching out into small perforators that penetrate through the muscles and fat into the overlying skin. When abdominal tissue is removed, the accompanying main artery and its DIEPs are also removed with it. These DIEPs can then be connected to the internal mammary artery, allowing for blood flow to the new breast mound. Because there is blood flow to the area, the belly tissue has a better chance of survival in the chest wall.
Breast reconstruction with a DIEP flap is a good option for women who want to use their own tissue to restore the breast. DIEP reconstruction may be performed at the same time as a mastectomy or during a later date. During a DIEP reconstruction, Dr. Peng will use skin and fat from the lower abdomen to reconstruct the breast mound.
Breast reconstruction using the flap technique can take anywhere from six to eight hours for unilateral reconstruction and ten to twelve hours for bilateral reconstruction. Although breast reconstruction with a DIEP flap varies from patient to patient, you can generally expect: