When thinking about the advantages of a DIEP flap, the conversation is shaped by comparing it to an implant-based reconstruction or other autologous reconstructive donor sites.
- Natural Look and Feel
One of the main advantages of DIEP Flap surgery is the ability to closely mimic the natural look and feel of a native breast. When using implants, the shape and feel of the reconstructed breast can be difficult to recreate. This is because the shape and feel are determined by the implant itself. In contrast, the shape of the breast with a DIEP flap is influenced more by the skin envelope of the breast skin preserved witht the mastectomy. Because fat from the abdomen is soft and pliable, similar to breast tissue, many patients find their results to be more comfortable and natural.
- Acceptable donor site scar pattern
There are many donor sites of the body that can be utilized to reconstruct a breast. Of the available options, DIEP flap breast reconstruction utilizes the skin and fat of the lower abdomen. While other donor sites may leave areas of irregular contour or visible scars, using the abdomen as a donor site results in favorable body contour and scars that are usually able to be concealed by regular clothing and bathing suits.
- Long Lasting Reconstruction
With implant-based reconstruction, it may be recommended that implants be replaced every 10-15 years. Because DIEP flap breast reconstruction uses patients’ own tissue to recreate their breasts, there is no need for routine maintenance screenings or surgery. DIEP flap breast reconstruction may include a second stage revision surgery, but should otherwise be a lifelong reconstruction, eliminating the need for further surgeries in the future.
- Preserves Core Muscle Function
DIEP Flap breast reconstruction is a muscle-sparing procedure. This means that no muscle will be removed with the transfer of the abdominal skin and fat. This results in a full restoration of core muscle function after patients have recovered and a lower risk of developing an incisional hernia. This contrasts with other breast reconstruction procedures such as the Latissimus flap or the TRAM flap.