What is A Breast Flap?|How is Breast Flap Surgery Done?|Various Types of Breast Flaps

What is A Breast Flap?

A breast flap is a flap of skin taken from other body part of the patient to rebuild the shape of the breast in order to reconstruct it after undergoing mastectomy. The method of such reconstruction is called the tissue flap surgery and is usually done to treat patients with breast cancer. It can also be done for women having problems with their breast development.

What is A Breast Flap?

Who Does The Breast Flap Surgery?

The breast flap surgery is done to reconstruct the breast and is usually done by a plastic surgeon. The surgeon who does the mastectomy surgery for a particular patient may refer a plastic surgeon for breast reconstruction. Such a surgeon has special training in breast reconstruction surgery. The patient generally meets the plastic surgeon well before the mastectomy in order to discuss the procedure which will be suitable best for the patient. Any clarifications regarding the surgery will be done by him.

How Is A Breast Flap Surgery Done?

The breast flap surgery may be done in any of the following ways:

Pedicle Flap: The breast flap surgery can be done using a pedicle flap, which means a flap of tissue from the buttock or the abdomen is taken and moved to the chest without cutting its original blood supply. Only the tissue is pulled under the skin up to the chest and attached.

Free Flap: At times, the flap technique of surgery is done using free flap, which include the blood vessels along with the tissue. They are cut and placed on the chest and then the surgeon sews the blood vessels of the flap to the blood vessels of the chest area. This is a more complicated process and requires using a microscope.

What Are The Various Types Of Breast Flaps?

There are various types of flaps which may be used and it all depends on the place from which they are taken from. Few of the types of breast flaps involve-

Transverse Rectus Abdominis Muscle Flap (TRAM) – This is the most common type of flap taken from the lower abdomen. The tissue and muscles of the lower belly is taken in the surgery and are moved to the chest area. This reduces the amount of fat and skin in the lower belly. TRAM flap can be used as both pedicle and free flap.

Latissimus Dorsi Flap (LD) – This type of flap can be used in a pedicle flap surgery. Muscles, fat and skin are taken from the upper back and moved to the chest area.
Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator Flap (DIEP) – This flap can be used as a free flap and is similar to TRAM. The surgeon takes only the fat and skin from the lower abdomen leaving out the muscles.

Gluteal Free Flap- As the name suggests, it can be used as a free flap. Fat, skin and muscles are taken from the buttocks to reconstruct the breast.

Transverse Upper Gracilis Flap (TUG) – This is another form of free flap that can be used from the inner upper thigh for the new breast reconstruction. This may be advantageous because the scar so formed will be hidden inside the thigh and groin. This may be beneficial for women who have small breasts and do not have enough tummy muscles for the reconstruction.

Superficial Inferior Epigastric Artery Flap (SIEA) – This form of flap is similar to DIEP flap. The only difference in this surgery is that it does not cut through the belly muscles to get to the artery in order to use it for the new breast construction.

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