Important Factors that Determine if You Are a Good Candidate for a DIEP Flap Surgery

Breast Reconstruction ConnecticutIf you’ve had a recent mastectomy in Houston or are about to have one, you may be wondering what breast reconstruction surgery options are available for your unique medical case. You may have heard of a DIEP flap surgery, and be wondering, is a DIEP flap right for me? Read on as Dr. Fusi & Dr. Craig explain DIEP flap surgery and what makes a patient a good candidate for this procedure.

What is DIEP Flap Surgery?

DIEP flap surgery is a special kind of breast reconstruction surgery for women who have had mastectomies. In a DIEP flap surgery, blood vessels called deep inferior epigastric perforators (DIEP), and the skin and fat connected to them, are removed from the lower abdomen. The blood vessels, skin and fat are then transferred to the breast using microsurgery. A DIEP flap surgery sacrifices no abdominal muscles.

Am I a Good Candidate for a DIEP Flap Surgery?

A lot of Houston women are concerned that their previous medical history may exclude them from being good candidates for a DIEP flap surgery. But, many women can safely undergo a DIEP flap procedure, even if they’ve had previous abdominal surgery, an umbilical hernia, chest radiation or if they don’t appear to have a lot of fat in their abdomen to transfer. Continue reading to see if you are a good candidate for a DIEP flap procedure.

I’ve Had Previous Abdominal Surgery.

Depending on the abdominal surgery you’ve had in the past, you may still be a good candidate for a DIEP flap procedure. If you’ve had a C-section, hysterectomy or tubal ligation, you may still be able to have a DIEP flap. Dr. Fusi & Dr. Craig can confirm your eligibility for a DIEP flap by performing a CT angiogram.

However, some abdominal procedures will make you ineligible for a DIEP flap. If you’re had a TRAM flap, which stands for transverse rectus abdominis, a tummy tuck or extensive abdominal wall surgeries (such as complex repair of an abdominal hernia), you may not be able to get a DIEP flap. This is because the fat and tissue needed for a DIEP flap procedure have already been manipulated by these previous surgeries.

I Have an Umbilical Hernia.

An umbilical hernia does not exclude you from a DIEP flap surgery. Most umbilical hernias are very small, and will not interfere with the harvesting of the blood vessels, tissue, and fat. True, larger umbilical hernias can make a DIEP flap more complicated, but even still, they do not make you ineligible for this procedure.

I’ve Had Chest Radiation

A lot of Houston patients may have been told by other doctors that previous chest radiation excludes them from receiving a DIEP flap. But that isn’t always the case. With previous chest radiation, the goal of the reconstructive surgeon is to remove the firm, radiated tissue and replace it with the healthy, soft tissue from the DIEP flap.

Another common concern with previous chest radiation is that the internal mammary vessels in the chest, which are used to connect the blood vessels harvested from the DIEP flap, may have been damaged by the radiation. Dr. Fusi & Dr. Craig rarely find this to be the case. And even if the mammary vessels are damaged, other blood vessels such as the thoracodorsal vessels can be used to connect the DIEP flap tissue to the breast.

Do I Have Enough Abdominal Fat to Transfer?

If you’re already slim, you may be concerned that you don’t have enough abdominal fat to transfer via a DIEP flap. That isn’t always the case. Women with a BMI as low as 20 can have a DIEP flap procedure, as long as they fat in their abdomen.

I’m Ready to Get a DIEP Flap. How Do I Get Started?

If you’re ready to get a DIEP Flap procedure, you next best step is to call Dr. Fusi & Dr. Craig in their Houston office to schedule a consultation. Call us today at (713) 346-9909.