The DIEP (Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator) flap procedure is the most advanced form of breast reconstruction surgery available today. The surgery uses the patient’s own abdominal tissue to reconstruct a natural, soft breast after mastectomy. Blood vessels, and the skin and fat connected to them, are removed from the lower abdomen and transferred to the chest to reconstruct a breast without the sacrifice of any of the abdominal muscles.
The DIEP flap is similar to the muscle-sparing free TRAM flap but only requires the removal of skin and fat. Unlike the TRAM procedure, all the abdominal muscle is preserved. After the skin, tissues and perforators (collectively known as the “flap”) have been dissected, the tissue is transplanted and connected to the patient’s chest using microsurgery. The surgeons then shape the tissue to create the new breast. Patients experience less pain after the surgery, enjoy a faster recovery, and maintain their abdominal strength long-term. The risk of abdominal complications such as bulging and hernia is also very small, much smaller than with the TRAM method of breast reconstruction. Many women who undergo this operation enjoy the added benefit of a flatter abdomen with results that mimic a “tummy tuck” procedure.