DIEP Flap FAQ’s
For one breast, a DIEP can take 3-4 hours. For both breasts, 6-7 hours.
Patients are typically discharged in less than 48 hours after completion of their surgery. The first night is spent in the Intensive Care Unit for close observation of the flap.
Walking is encouraged the first day after surgery. After 7-10 days, you should be able to drive. You should not lift anything heavier than 20 pounds in the first 7-10 days. After 3- 4weeks, you should be able to return to work, depending on how much physical activity is required. At 4 weeks, you can run, lift weights, and swim.
You will have 2 drains in the abdomen and one drain in the breast. We will teach you how to care for them. They will be removed when they put out less than 30cc (one ounce) per day.
Sometimes, the general surgeon will remove the nipples at the time of mastectomy. Other times, it will be left intact, otherwise known a nipple sparing mastectomy. If your nipples are removed at the time of mastectomy, you will undergo nipple reconstruction at a separate operation 3-6 months later. This is essentially painless and only takes a few minutes to do. The pigmented part of the areola is tattooed for the final stage.
From the day of the DIEP flaps, your final result will be completed between 3 and 6 months.
One of the benefits of the DIEP flap is the improved abdominal shape. Your abdomen will be much flatter and tighter. You essentially get a tummy tuck from the operation, though the scar is slightly higher than a tummy tuck scar.
Microsurgery allows the movement of large amounts of tissue from one part of the body to another. It has revolutionized the field of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and gives a skilled microsurgeon a much wider range of options than ever before possible. This makes it possible for a microsurgeon performing a flap to transfer the abdominal skin and fat needed for a breast reconstruction without sacrificing the abdominal muscle.
Any surgery performed in any hospital or surgery center carries the risk of complications.The chances of such a complication occurring are low but not zero. The only way to have no risk of complications is to not have breast reconstruction, which is an option. Standard surgical risks include bleeding, infection, pain, damage to nerves and blood vessels, partial of complete flap loss, permanent scars, and the need for revision surgery. These risks are common to all physicians performing breast reconstruction or other surgery. Each type of procedure has its specific set of risks. We will carefully go over any risks involved before your procedure and are happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have at any time.
Procedures using expanders and implants are faster and easier in the short term. However, there is a much higher complication rate with implants. In fact, implants can rupture or cause problems throughout one’s entire life. Using your own tissues is a more natural procedure. Once your flap has healed, it cannot rupture, or develop a reason to be removed. An added benefit is the greatly improved abdominal contour, much like a tummy tuck.
Federal law requires insurance companies to pay for your breast reconstruction. Each insurance company has a different deductable and co-pay. Our insurance specialists will help you through this process.
Scheduling can begin on the day of consultation, but the final date will come after insurance authorization.