Types of Flap Procedures

Autologous tissue reconstruction, which is also known as a tissue flap procedure, is an excellent means to rebuild the breast after mastectomy. Before undergoing any type of breast reconstruction surgery, it is best to consult with your Fort Worth breast reconstruction specialist to learn all about its risks and benefits.

Flap procedures uses tissue from other body parts, like your back, abdomen, buttocks, or thighs to rebuild the shape of the breast. Unlike saline or silicone implants, tissue flaps behave and look more like natural breast tissue. For example, they may shrink or enlarge as you lose or gain weight. Also, while implants need replacement if they rupture, this is not a problem with tissue flaps.

Some tissue flaps can be used with an implant, but are typically used by themselves to rebuild the breast. Here are the most common kinds of flap procedures:

  • TRAM flap, also known as transverse rectus abdominis muscle flap, this procedure used to be the most preferred way of reconstructing the breast. During the reconstruction process, this kind of procedure uses one (or both) of the fat, skin, and muscles in the abdomen, making recovery harder compared to the DIEP flap procedure.  
  • DIEP flap, also known as deep inferior epigastric perforator flap, is currently hailed as the gold standard in breast reconstruction. Although it also uses the tissue in the abdominal area, the DIEP flap spares all the muscles in the abdomen. This helps preserve abdominal strength, lessens the recovery time, and reduces risk or complications.
  • GAP, also known as gluteal artery perforator flaps, this procedure makes use of the tissues in the buttocks. The GAP flaps are for lean women who don’t have the option of using their abdominal tissue due to previous incisions or thinness. The fat, skin, and blood vessels are removed from the buttocks and moved to the chest.
  • Latissimus dorsi flap uses upper back tissue. This is typically used in conjunction with a breast implant. During the surgery, the fat, muscle, blood vessels, and skin are tunneled from the upper back to the chest. This makes for a more natural-looking breast compared to using an implant alone.
  • TUG, also known as transverse upper gracilis, makes use of inner thigh tissues. This procedure is not widely offered, and uses fatty tissue and muscle from the inner thigh and bottom fold of the buttock. The best candidates of this procedure are those who require a medium sized or smaller breast, and women whose inner thighs touch.

Breast reconstruction using soft tissue flaps taken from your own body makes for a more natural looking and feeling breast compared to reconstruction with the use of implants. For more information, get in touch with your Fort Worth breast reconstruction specialists at Breast Reconstruction Associates.