Preparing for DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction surgery can be an essential and empowering step for women undergoing mastectomy as part of their breast cancer treatment. One option is DIEP flap reconstruction, a procedure that uses the patient’s tissue to create a new breast. If you are considering this procedure, there are several things you can do to prepare yourself both physically and mentally. This article will discuss what you need to know about preparing for DIEP flap breast reconstruction.
Understanding DIEP Flap Reconstruction
Unlike other types of breast reconstruction that use implants, DIEP flap reconstruction uses your body tissue. The DIEP flap uses skin and fat and blood vessels from the lower abdomen and transfers it to the chest to create a new breast. The use of natural tissues means that the reconstructed breast will look and feel more natural and age with the rest of your body over time.
When considering option for natural tissue reconstruction, our surgeons prefer the DIEP flap as is uses the lower abdominal skin and fat only and spares the abdominal muscle. This lower abdominal tissue is also most similar to breast tissue and provides the best match compared to tissue taken from other areas such as the buttock or inner thighs.
Preparing for Surgery
Before your surgery, taking the time to prepare yourself both physically and mentally is crucial for a smooth recovery. Here are some tips to help you get ready:
- Quit smoking: Smoking reduces oxygen flow in the body and slows down wound healing. It is vital to quit smoking at least four weeks before your surgery.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Maintaining a healthy weight (BMI<25) can help reduce the risk of complications during and after surgery.
- Follow a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet and staying hydrated gives your body the nutrients and energy it needs to heal quickly after surgery.
- Adjust medications: Blood thinners and herbal supplements can increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Schedule a physical examination with your doctor to discuss how you can safely stop taking certain medications before surgery.
- Educate yourself: Learn as much as possible about the surgery and the recovery process to help ease your anxiety. It’s also important to find a board-certified plastic surgeon with experience performing the DIEP flap procedure.
- Get advice: Talk to other women who have undergone breast reconstruction. They can share their experiences and offer valuable advice.
- Seek support: After surgery, you will need friends and family to help with daily household chores while you recover. It’s also important to have a trusted support system to help you with the emotional stress of surgery.
The DIEP Flap Procedure
The DIEP flap surgery is a complex procedure that can take several hours to complete. Incisions will have to be made along the lower abdomen and on the chest, usually in the breast fold where the scar is more easily concealed. You will be under general anesthesia during the surgery and must stay in the hospital for a few days after the procedure so that your surgeon can monitor your initial recovery. A drain will be placed in your abdomen to remove excess fluid, and you will be given pain medication to help manage discomfort.
Recovery from DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction
Recovery from DIEP flap surgery typically takes 6-8 weeks. Following your doctor’s instructions and caring for yourself during this time is essential. Here are some tips to help you recover:
- Rest: Get plenty of rest to help your body heal.
- Take pain medication: Take your pain medication as your doctor prescribes to manage any discomfort.
- Take care of your incisions: Keep your incisions clean and dry to prevent infection.
- Take daily walks: we recommend walking during the first 6-8 weeks to help increase circulation to your overall body and help bring oxygen to your healing tissues.
- Avoid strenuous activity: Heavy lifting and strenuous exercise must be avoided for at least 8-12 weeks after surgery.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are considering DIEP flap breast reconstruction, choosing a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon is essential. At Tucson Plastic Surgery, Dr. Mahabir and Dr. Kurtovic are board-certified plastic surgeons with extensive experience in breast reconstruction including DIEP flap reconstruction surgery. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about your options for breast reconstruction in Tucson, AZ.