The DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap – also known as tummy tuck breast reconstruction – is the most advanced form of breast reconstruction available today. This procedure creates a breast lost to mastectomy from the tissue that is normally discarded in a tummy tuck (excess abdominal skin and fat) and transplants that tissue to the missing breast. The artery, vein, and occasionally a nerve, are hand sewn under the microscope (microsurgery) to new blood vessels between or under the ribs. Thus new, independent blood flow can be established to areas severely damaged by radiation and surgery. A soft supple natural appearing breast can be shaped on the chest and can last a lifetime.
- No muscle is removed and therefore the pain after surgery is minimal.
- Natural results and flatter abdomen. Patients will experience natural results because the breast is reconstructed with the patient’s tissue and a flatter abdomen with results that mimic a tummy tuck.
- Quick recovery. Three-day hospital stay. The majority of patients are discharged from the hospital on the third day. Most are driving after one week and return to all their normal activities without restrictions after two weeks.
- Nothing artificial is placed. In other methods of breast reconstruction, an artificial mesh is placed in the abdomen because a section of muscle is taken along with fascia (cover over muscle). Since we do not take any muscle or fascia, there is no defect and all incisions are closed simply with sutures. A second benefit in not placing artificial mesh is the infection rate is much lower than any traditional method of breast reconstruction, including TRAM flap and implants.
- Sensation of the breast skin after mastectomy. In selected cases, when the reconstruction is performed at the time of mastectomy, we take great care to preserve the nerves that allow the breast skin to have sensation.
- Simultaneous transplant of lymph nodes. At the time of the DIEP flap, we can also incorporate lymph nodes that are removed by an axillary lymph node dissection. This may lower the risk of a permanent complication such as lymphedema (swollen arm).
- Can be performed even after failed reconstructions.
- Can be performed at the same time as the mastectomy meaning there is no need for the installation of expanders below the skin prior to surgery.
Highly Experienced Medical Team
Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel is home to the Advanced Breast Reconstruction Specialists, a team of highly skilled microsurgeons, all board certified in plastic surgery and fellowship trained in microsurgical breast reconstruction. The team at Advanced Breast Reconstruction Specialists have performed more than 3,000 DIEP flaps. Their experience allows for reduced time under anesthesia from 12 hours to 6 hours. This highly experienced team performs surgeries through the country and abroad and right here in our community.
Women’s Wing at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel
The women’s wing at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel was added as part of the hospital expansion in fall of 2016. This wing is home to 20 all-private rooms designed specifically for women.
This wing is also home to our specially designed DIEP room. The recovery for the DIEP procedure requires the room temperature to be elevated. With that in mind, we have added an additional suite off of the all-private patient room with its own thermostat so that visitors can stay over comfortably.
“There is a different compassion to take care of these patients.”
We take pride in the personalized and compassionate care we provide here at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel. Here are a few stories about the care provided to some of our DIEP patients.
Breast Cancer Support Group
The Center for Women’s Health at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel is home to a Breast Cancer Support Group who meets the first Wednesday of every month. This group brings together breast cancer patients and survivors to share successes and support; educates patients and survivors with guest speakers; and encourages in-depth discussions in a positive environment. If you’re interested in attending, you can pre-register here.