When Given All Choices for Breast Reconstruction, More Women are Opting Against Implants

More Women Are Choosing DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Over Implants

I am so glad I made the choice to have the DIEP Flap procedure!

Implants are the most common method of breast reconstruction performed today, but are not considered the gold standard. Because of the extra training needed and the complexity of more advanced procedures like the DIEP flap, few centers in the US truly offer the full spectrum of breast reconstruction procedures. Unfortunately, reports today show seven out of ten women are never told about all their breast reconstruction options with many believing implants are the only choice.

Although breast implants may be the best option for some, the proportion of women who disagree appears to be on the rise. Some women prefer to avoid implants in general, while others are opting to remove them because of complications. In either case, more women are deciding between going flat, or having “natural” reconstruction using their own tissue if that is an option for them.

Implant alternative procedures, like the DIEP flap, provide women with warm, soft, natural breasts after a mastectomy.

The DIEP flap is today’s gold standard in breast reconstruction. The procedure uses a patient’s lower tummy skin and fat which are transplanted to the chest to reconstruct a breast using microsurgery. Unlike the more commonly recognized TRAM surgery, the DIEP spares all the patient’s abdominal muscles. This significantly reduces the risk of abdominal complications (like bulging or a hernia) and overall recovery time. Women also enjoy the added benefit of a flatter abdomen with results similar to a tummy tuck.

The lower tummy fat mimics breast tissue closely in terms of consistency and is the ideal tissue to create a “natural” breast. Nerves damaged during a mastectomy leaving the patient’s chest numb can also be repaired during this procedure. Sensory nerves are transferred with the DIEP flap to the chest and reconnected to nerves cut by the mastectomy. This provides a better chance of regaining feeling to the new breast in a shorter amount of time. Unfortunately, sensory nerve reconstruction is not possible with tissue expander or implant breast reconstruction.

DIEP flap breast…

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