DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction
Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator flap
The DIEP technique offers women undergoing breast reconstruction a natural-appearing breast with minimal trauma to the donor site.
DIEP flap breast reconstruction replaces the skin and soft tissue removed during mastectomy with soft,, living tissue by taking skin and fat from the abdomen. An incision is made along the bikini line, much like that used for a tummy tuck. The necessary skin, soft tissue, and feeding blood vessels are removed; the blood vessels are then matched to supplying vessels at the mastectomy site and reattached under a microscope.
Unlike conventional reconstructions, the use of the DIEP flap allows for collection of the lower abdominal tissue without sacrifice of the underlying abdominal muscles. This tissue is then surgically transformed into a new breast mound. In addition to reconstructing the breast, the contour of the abdomen is often improved much like a tummy tuck.
DIEP Flap FAQ
Commonly asked questions regarding the DIEP flap:
1) What is the DIEP Flap?
A DIEP flap is a type of flap used for breast reconstruction. DIEP stands for deep inferior epigastric perforator flap and is essentially the name of the blood vessel that provides a vascular supply for this flap. It takes the lower abdominal skin and fat without taking the muscle.
2) How is this flap different from a TRAM flap?
A TRAM flap also uses the lower abdominal skin and fat but usually takes the underlying rectus abdominis muscle with it to provide the vascular supply.
Unlike the pedicle TRAM flap, the DIEP flap allows the patient to retain her abdominal muscle by transplanting the lower abdominal tissue to the chest by identifying the blood supply and reconnecting the blood vessels to blood vessels at the mastectomy site.
3) What is the advantage of a DIEP flap?
A DIEP flap allows the skin and fat from the lower abdomen to be used to make a new breast without sacrificing the underlying muscle. This means that most women are able to resume their normal physical activities - such as working out, sit-ups, playing with their children - without noticing any abdominal weakness, hernias, or abdominal bulges. Also, because the DIEP flap uses your own tissue, the reconstructed breast will feel like your own tissue and will look more natural. Implants will feel like implants and will look like implants, particularly when you see yourself without clothes.
4) Who performs the surgery?
Dr. Anu Bajaj performs the surgery with the assistance of her father, Dr. Paramjit Bajaj. Both are board-certified plastic surgeons. Dr. Anu has received additional microsurgical training at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Prior to moving to Oklahoma City, she was on the faculty at the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine.
5) How many of these procedures do you do?
On average, we perform 50 free flaps a year. A free flap is a procedure that involves microsurgical expertise to reconnect the blood vessels. Prior to moving to Oklahoma City, Dr. Anu performed 2-3 free flaps per week while in Cincinnati, Ohio.
6) Where is the surgery performed?
Dr. Anu Bajaj performs all of her DIEP flap procedures at Saint Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City. Saint Anthony has a new state-of-the-art operating room and has purchased the specialized microsurgical equipment - including a new microscope, flap monitoring devices, and a trained operating room team - which she requested.
7) How long does the surgery take?
The surgery usually takes 4-6 hours for one breast and 8-10 hours for two breasts. This length is not significantly longer than what it takes for a pedicle TRAM flap.
8) Can I have my reconstruction performed at the same time as my mastectomy?
Yes. Women with early stage breast cancer who will not require radiation therapy or those women who are having prophylactic mastectomies are candidates for immediate breast reconstruction.
9) What will my recovery be like?
Most patients spend 4-6 days in the hospital after surgery. Typically, women will take 6-8 weeks off of work as well.
10) Can I speak with your patients?
When you come for your initial consultation, you may obtain a list of patients who have had a DIEP flap performed by Dr. Anu Bajaj and Dr. Paramjit Bajaj. These patients have agreed to speak with you and discuss their experience with you.
Learn More About DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction
We encourage you to explore your options for DIEP flap breast reconstruction in Oklahoma City. Please contact Bajaj Plastic Surgery in Oklahoma City by calling 405‐810‐8448 to set up a consultation.