DIEP Flap Recovery
DIEP flap breast reconstruction is a surgery to reconstruct the breast after mastectomy using a patient's own abdominal tissue. There is no tissue expander or implant placed. Dr. Jandali completed his residency training at the University of Pennsylvania, where over 400 free flap breast reconstructions are performed every year. Dr. Jandali's microsurgical team is one of only a few groups performing DIEP flap breast reconstruction for patients in Southern Connecticut.
How Long is DIEP Flap Surgery?
A DIEP flap is a highly specialized procedure that involves microsurgery. In the first part of the procedure, the lower abdominal tissue and its blood supply are detached from the abdomen without removing any of the muscle. The flap is then transferred to the breast for reconstruction. An operating microscope or surgical loupes are used to suture the tiny artery and vein into blood vessels in the breast between the ribs. All of the breast and abdominal incisions are then closed with dissolvable sutures. A DIEP flap reconstruction of one breast usually takes between 5 and 7 hours. A bilateral DIEP flap reconstruction for double mastectomies usually takes about 9 to 12 hours. For healthy patients, this type and length of surgery is very safe and patients do well after surgery.
Recovery after DIEP Flap
After DIEP flap surgery, patients are admitted to the hospital for monitoring and recovery. Patients usually stay in an intermediate care surgical floor where the nurses have been specifically trained by Dr. Jandali on how to monitor the flaps and care for these patients. A proven postoperative protocol is used for all patients to have a safe and speedy recovery. Patients usually go home after 3 or 4 days in the hospital. Patients are discharged with pain medicine, antibiotics, and an aspirin a day to help prevent any clots in the flap. Patients usually go home with a surgical drain in the breast and two drains in the abdomen. These drains come out in the office 1-2 weeks after surgery. Patients can shower when they get home from the hospital. We always set up a visiting nurse for when the patient gets home in order to help with recovery and assess healing.
Exercise after a DIEP Flap for Breast Reconstruction
The muscles of the abdominal wall are spared with a DIEP flap breast reconstruction, as opposed to a free TRAM flap, where a part of the muscle is always taken. The muscles and fascia still need 6-8 weeks to heal after surgery before any heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling. At 8 weeks after DIEP flap surgery, patients can resume any exercise.
Contact Us for DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction in Connecticut
If you are interested in DIEP flap breast reconstruction in Connecticut, come visit our plastic surgery office in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Call 203-374-0310 to set up a consultation with Board Certified plastic surgeon Dr. Shareef Jandali. We look forward to seeing you.