The “Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator” also called the DIEP flap is a form of breast reconstruction surgery. It is quite similar to the free TRAM flap, apart from the fact that no muscle is used to rebuild the breast. Thus, the DIEP is basically a form of muscle sparing flap. The surgeon may take around six to eight hours in order to complete a DIEP surgery.
Is DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery Suitable For Every Woman?
The DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery is quite popular in the recent days because it does not move or cut the muscle thereby making the recovery time from the surgery to be shorter than a TRAM flap. However, everyone cannot have a DIEP flap surgery. This form of flap surgery is not suitable for:
Thin Patients: Patients who are quite thin and do not have extra belly tissue. However, with recent medical developments the stacked approach may sometimes work for patients who are thin.
Colostomy Patients: Patients who have already undergone some form of abdominal surgeries like colostomy, which is a surgery to attach the large intestine to the opening in the abdominal wall; and abdominoplasty, which is basically tummy tuck surgery.
Small Abdominal Blood Vessels: Patients with small abdominal blood vessels in may not be eligible for undergoing a DIEP flap surgery.
How is a DIEP Flap Different From the TRAM Flap?
The TRAM flap which is the Transverse Rectus Abdominis Muscle flap is a common form of flap that includes taking the muscles, fat and skin from the lower abdomen in order to move to the chest area in the breast surgery. On the contrary, The DIEP flap is a free flap than includes the transfer of fat and skin from the lower abdomen to the chest area, leaving out the muscles.
How Does DIEP Flap Surgery Contribute To Tummy Tuck?
In a typical DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery the belly tissue fat is taken out which results in tummy tuck as an automatic benefit. Nevertheless, in the standard tummy tuck the excess flabby tummy skin is usually removed and thus takes a shorter recovery time. The DIEP flap surgery sometimes may require a longer time for recovery because it involves incision at two points, one in the abdomen and other in the chest area. Thus the patient may have to take rest for a longer period of time and avoid lifting heave materials for some amount of time until the doctor asks to.
What to Expect During The Recovery From the DIEP Flap Surgery?
Stay at the Hospital: The patient should be ready and make arrangements to stay in the hospital for at least four days after the surgery. The doctor may ask for a longer stay if he feels so. All the vital bodily processes are to be observed during this time
Food: The patient may be able to eat the next day of the surgery.
Walking: The patient may be able start walking on plane surface with some form of help from a caregiver from the second day of the surgery.
Activities: Once the patient is discharged from the hospital, she may be able to carry out the day to day activities.
No Exercises: The patient may be advised not to indulge in strenuous activities including exercise until the surgeon feels okay to do so.
Deal with Surgical Drains: The patient may have some surgical drains attached to the newly constructed drains which will be removed eventually.
Duration of the Drain Placement: Such drains may be removed by the doctor within few weeks’ time. In case these drains are lot more productive it has to be kept for a longer period of time.