Flap Reconstruction After a Mastectomy
After having a mastectomy, a woman’s battle with breast cancer may be over, but she may still be left feeling damaged or left incomplete by the disease. Reconstructive breast surgery is a life-changing procedure that can help to not only restore a natural-looking feminine figure, but to also renew a woman’s self-confidence so she may feel like herself again—strong and beautiful like the survivor she is. This specific form of breast reconstruction uses your body’s own tissue to help reconstruct the breast that was removed during your mastectomy. During your consultation, Dr. Hunsicker and Dr. Nguyen can help to determine if flap reconstruction is right for you, or if you are better suited for an alternative breast reconstruction procedure.
Flap Reconstruction FAQs
Flap reconstruction is a reconstructive breast surgery that uses donor skin and tissue from other areas of your body to recreate a natural-looking breast. Nipple reconstruction or tattooing is often performed as a supplemental procedure to achieve a more natural outcome. DIEP flap, TRAM flap, and Latissimus flap reconstruction are the most common breast reconstruction techniques. Your reconstructive surgeon will make a recommendation based on your safety and anatomy, as well as your desired outcome.
A DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforators) flap reconstruction is performed using donor tissue from the lower abdomen. In this case, the blood vessels, skin, and fat are all transferred to the chest to create the new breast without harming the abdominal muscles.
A TRAM (transverse rectus abdominis) flap reconstruction is performed using a section of donor skin, fat, and part or all of the abdominal muscle to reconstruct the breast. There are two types of TRAM flap procedures: free or pedicled (attached). Dr. Hunsicker and Dr. Nguyen can explain the details of both types and which you may be best suited for during your one-on-one consultation.
A latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction is performed using tissue from the latissimus dorsi muscle located in your back. The tissue is tunneled underneath your skin to form the new shape for your breast.
Flap reconstruction is an option for women who have undergone breast cancer treatment with a mastectomy followed by radiation. It is sometimes also recommended for larger-breasted women who desire a reconstructed breast that is larger than can be created with an implant alone. Not all women are right for flap reconstruction. Dr. Hunsicker and Dr. Nguyen can discuss alternative options with you during your consultation.
Flap reconstruction can help give you back a beautiful feminine shape, however, it is important to have realistic expectations for your surgery. Given the complex nature of this procedure, you will need to spend up to six weeks away from work and other activities as your body heals. It will take some time to feel like your old self again, but once fully healed, women who have undergone flap reconstruction often feel more confident and are overjoyed with their results.