DIEP Flap Breast Surgery: Body tissue reconstruction

Posted January 05, 2018

The DIEP Flap is the technique where skin and tissue (no muscle) are taken from the abdomen in order to recreate the breast. A deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap, is a type of breast reconstruction procedure that a woman can have after a mastectomy or removal of her breast due to breast cancer.

The deep inferior epigastric artery is the blood vessel that goes through the abdomen and provides the blood supply to the tissue of the lower abdomen.

1. Who is suitable for DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction procedure?
– You should be a non-smoker with enough tissue on your lower tummy to make a breast and not be overweight i.e. BMI over 30. You should be free from diabetes and other major health issues excluding cancer treatment. Any radiotherapy or chemotherapy should have finished at least six months prior to surgery.

2. How is the surgery performed?
– The DIEP Flap procedure is performed under general anaesthetic and takes between six to eight hours. The skin and fat from the lower part of the tummy are lifted up on one or two small blood vessels that are carefully chased through the tummy muscles until they are big enough to join up to vessels in the chest using microsurgery.

3. What are the benefits over the more traditional breast reconstruction procedures?
– It is considered to be the gold standard in breast reconstruction and the main advantages are that it is the most natural feeling, it ages with you, it maintains the strength of your core musculature and it never needs any further surgery. The added bonus is that you also gain a tummy tuck by using the abdomen tissue.

Mr Gerard Lambe is a Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at The Christie Clinic. He specialises in skin, head and neck, and breast surgery and leads the Breast Reconstruction service at The Christie NHS Trust. For more information or to book an appointment with Mr Lambe please call 0161 638 7408