Sentara Obici Hospital is one of the few hospitals in the United States to offer the state-of-the-art, microsurgical Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) flap breast reconstruction. Surgeons use skin, fat and blood vessels
| Donor Tissue Flap|
| After DIEP Flap |
from the patient’s abdomen, but do not use the muscle to form the breast mound.
Reconstruction using DIEP flap results in less skin and fat in the lower abdomen - or a "tummy tuck." This method uses a free flap, meaning that the tissue is completely cut free from the tummy and then moved to the chest area.
With the DIEP flap method, abdominal muscle is preserved, reducing weakness that occurs when those muscles are removed. It also preserves the fascia, which helps to reduce the hernia and bulging that can occur after the rectus muscle is taken. By minimizing muscle injury patients experience less pain.
Benefits of this choice of breast reconstruction include:
A natural looking and feeling breast made out of a women's own tissue.
Preservation, and in most cases, enhancement of abdominal muscle function.
Improved body proportions with tightening of the stomach at the same time the breast is rebuilt.
Quick return to normal activities including sports
No delay after reconstruction receiving chemo or radiation therapy if needed.
The ability to look normal wearing most clothing including swim suits, lingerie, and sports wear.
The DIEP flap is an option for most women
who face mastectomy to treat cancer and desire immediate reconstruction
who have had mastectomy in the past and now desire reconstruction
who have had other types of reconstruction and want to explore options for a more natural result
Breast reconstruction is performed in stages. The first stage is the DIEP flap to recreate the breast mound. Even when the same procedure is performed on both breasts there may be asymmetry partly due to the mastectomy defect created. For this reason a second surgery is performed for symmetry. Finally the nipple/areola is reconstructed.
While most women qualify for, and choose, state-of-the-art microsurgical perforator flap reconstruction, plastic surgeons can also use saline implants, pedicle myocutaneous flaps or other forms of reconstruction when needed.
Read more about breast reconstruction on the American Cancer Society website.