A DIEP flap procedure is a type of breast reconstruction that uses tissue from the stomach to create new breasts. It is referred to as a DIEP flap surgery because it transfers both tissue, and the deep inferior epigastric perforator artery from the stomach, to the chest area. Unlike the TRAM flap procedure, it does not require the removal of abdominal muscle, which means that the recovery period is usually shorter. Unfortunately, the surgery usually takes longer than a TRAM flap treatment, and typically leaves behind two scars. Most women are candidates for this procedure as long as they have enough stomach fat to remove, and are non-smokers since this habit can hinder recovery.
Not only stomach tissue and skin are moved during a DIEP flap procedure, but also the artery that provides sufficient blood to the area. This allows the tissue to constantly get enough blood to assist with recovery, typically preventing tissue death after the procedure. Due to the fact that no muscle is removed from the abdominal area, the recovery is typically shorter than other types of autologous breast surgery. On the other hand, the relocation of an artery can result in a particularly long operation, requiring an experienced surgeon for the best results.
One of the advantages of the DIEP flap procedure is that the chance of getting an abdominal hernia afterward is low, while the main downside is the presence of two scars since there are two incision sites. One of them is usually near the bikini line, much like an incision from a tummy tuck, and the other is on the chest. Additionally, the nipple and areola both need to be newly formed in a different procedure, so those considering a DIEP flap operation should be prepared for a few different scars afterward. They should also expect to spend a lot of time in the operating room, though the good news is that the surgery itself and recovery both typically involve very little pain.
For many women, the DIEP flap procedure is appealing since it results in breasts that look and feel natural, as most such surgeries involve using only existing tissue and skin. In fact, the resulting breasts often look firmer and more youthful than what the woman had previously. In addition, the DIEP flap surgery provides similar results to a tummy tuck, since fat is removed from the stomach area without sacrificing the abdominal muscles, allowing women to have a flatter stomach along with their new breasts.