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Use Of DIEPA Flap To Replace Removed Breast Tissue

DIEPA stands for Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator Artery and is an artery which goes through the abdominal area. A DIEPA flap surgery is an advanced microsurgical technique used in breast reconstruction following mastectomy (surgery that removes your breast to treat or prevent breast cancer). It is a complex surgery that requires a surgeon who is skilled and experienced in the procedure. DIEPA flap surgery involves removing blood vessels, fat and skin from the lower abdomen to rebuild the breast. DIEPA is the preferred choice of treatment in most women, especially women who have had previous pregnancies and borne children. These women usually have ample extra skin and fat tissue in the lower abdomen. These tissues can be harvested to create a new breast and in the bargain the patient gets a free tummy tuck (flattened stomach).


During this procedure, a flap of skin is cut from the lower belly region of the patient. this piece of skin is taken along with the underlying fat and the blood vessels (arteries and veins) As the flap needs a good supply of blood vessels to survive, the surgeon will carefully reconnect the flap-blood vessels to blood vessels in your chest through microsurgery (surgery using an operating microscope). Finally, the flap is sculpted by the surgeon to create a breast. In contrast to the older technique of TRAM flap no muscle or sheath is taken with the flap thus minimizing the chances of abdominal wall weakness or hernia formation after the surgery. The approximate duration of the surgery is 4-6 hours and the patient is usually discharged in about 5-6 days.


DIEPA flap surgery has the advantage of a much faster recovery than a muscle-sacrificing flap procedure such as TRAM. Also, the procedure exposes women to a lower risk of losing abdominal muscle strength. An added benefit to women with ample post-pregnancy fat (along the lower portion of their abdomen) is that this procedure paves the way for a flat and tight tummy. Lastly, a DIEPA flap provides a more natural appearance to the breast when compared to an implant.

Risks and Complications

As is the case with any surgery, DIEPA flap surgery carries a few risks. Risks specific to DIEPA surgery include instances of limited blood supply to the newly attached flap tissue leading to necrosis (tissue breakdown) and the formation of lumps in the reconstructed breast ( fat necrosis). This procedure also carries a slight risk of abdominal hernia, even though no muscle is used to create the breast.