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DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction

Plastic Surgery to Restore Breast Symmetry After a Mastectomy

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Updated April 27, 2012

Recovering from DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction

You should plan on staying in the hospital for 3 or 4 days after this surgery, so that nurses can keep an eye on your healing process. Pack loose, comfortable clothing for your trip home (allow room for surgical drains). When your fluid build-up has significantly decreased, you may be able to have your drains removed, which should be about a week after surgery. Plan on resting for 4 to 6 weeks after a DIEP, and make sure someone will be around to do drive and lift for you. Plan on going for follow-up appointments so your surgeon can assess your healing progress, incisions and dressings.

DIEP Flap for Double Mastectomy

If you have enough skin and fat on your tummy to create two new breasts, you can have a DIEP flap reconstruction after a double mastectomy. If you've already had abdominal tissue used for breast reconstruction (TRAM flap) then you must choose a different method (lat flap or implant).

Special Considerations for the DIEP Flap

DIEP flap is microsurgery, which requires extensive training and experience, in addition to special facilities and surgical tools. The sutures used to reconnect the blood vessels are about the same diameter as a strand of your hair. Your surgical team will use a high-power microscope to perform the most critical part of this procedure (reconnecting blood vessels). Choose a surgeon for this reconstruction carefully, asking plenty of questions until you feel comfortable making a decision to go ahead with the procedure.

Find Plastic/Reconstructive Surgeons in Your Area

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Sources:
American Cancer Society. Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy. Types of Breast Reconstruction. Revised: 09/06/2007.

National Cancer Institute. Surgery Choices for Women with Early-Stage Breast Cancer. Posted 10/22/2004.

Discuss Breast Reconstruction in the Forum

There are many types of breast reconstruction - implants, TRAM, Latissimus Dorsi, SGAP, DIEP Flap. What procedure did you have? Would you recommend it to anyone else? What went right or wrong with your reconstruction?
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