TRAM Flap or DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction?

Until just recently, the TRAM flap was considered the gold standard in breast reconstruction. A few years back, it was replaced by DIEP flap. If you are researching about breast reconstructive options after mastectomy, it is a good idea to consult with your Fort Worth breast reconstruction specialist to better understand your options, know the concept of TRAM surgery, and how it has progressed into today’s cutting edge DIEP flap procedure.

Plastic surgeons commonly perform three forms of TRAM flap procedures:

  1. The Pedicled TRAM flap – this procedure makes use of one of the sit -up muscle or the rectus abdominus muscle for reconstructing the breast. An incision from hip to hip is made, then the lower abdominal tissue below the belly button is tunnelled under the upper abdominal skin to the chest to recreate the breast. Recovery from the Pedicled TRAM flap can be painful and difficult.
  2. The Free TRAM flap – in this procedure, the same abdominal tissues as the pedicled TRAM is used, except that the tissue is removed from the patient’s body, then reconnected and transplanted into the chest with the use of microsurgery. The free TRAM procedure promotes better blood supply, hence, has less risk of fat necrosis and healing problems.
  3. The Muscle-Sparing Free TRAM flap – this type of operation gives all the benefits of the other TRAM procedures but has lesser side effects and complications such as bulging, pain, strength loss, and hernia. The muscle that is needed during this kind of operation is quite small.

The DIEP flap is the most advanced form of breast reconstruction surgery available today. Similar to the TRAM, this procedure makes use of the patient’s abdominal fat and skin to create a soft, natural breast after mastectomy. With the DIEP flap procedure, all the abdominal muscle is preserved.

Similar to a “tummy tuck,” only abdominal fat and skin are removed. Therefore, patients experience less pain post-surgery, maintain their abdominal strength, and enjoy faster recovery. The risk of complications is also significantly lower.

If you want more information or would want to consult with a Fort Worth DIEP flap specialist to help you weigh your options, feel free to get in touch with us at Breast Reconstruction Associates.