Few experiences are more traumatic and life-changing than breast cancer. While a mastectomy or lumpectomy can often lead to a full recovery, these procedures can significantly change the appearance of your breasts. Many women find breast reconstruction to be an integral part of the healing process, providing a restored sense of confidence, femininity and normalcy. The board-certified plastic surgery team of Dr. Ben Brown and Dr. Ashley Chandler understand the profound impact that a mastectomy can have on the lives of their patients, and are committed to providing the highest quality of breast reconstruction with compassion and integrity.
We are proud to be among the few plastic surgery practices in the nation to offer DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction and among the even fewer to be a preferred in-network provider for the procedure. While our experienced and highly-referred plastic surgeons offer more breast reconstruction options than anyone in the region, the DIEP flap microsurgical procedure is the most advanced form of breast reconstruction currently available.
To learn more about DIEP Flap surgery and our other breast reconstruction options, please contact Restore Plastic Surgery today by completing the form on this page or calling 850-500-7527 to schedule an initial consultation. Our Pensacola office welcomes patients from all over Florida, nearby Mobile, Alabama, and throughout the nation.
This page discusses the following topics:
- What Is DIEP Flap Surgery?
- Benefits of DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery
- Candidates for DIEP Flap Microsurgery
- Preferred In-Network DIEP Flap Provider
- Breast Reconstruction with Implants
- Breast Reconstruction Revision Surgery
- Your Breast Reconstruction Consultation
- Types of Mastectomy Surgery
- Why Choose Restore Plastic Surgery for Your Breast Reconstruction?
- Schedule Your Breast Reconstruction Consultation Today
DIEP flap (deep inferior epigastric perforator flap) microsurgery is the most advanced breast reconstruction technique available today. The procedure uses excess skin, fat and underlying blood vessels from the abdominal region to construct a “natural” breast from your own tissue. No abdominal muscles are removed during the DIEP flap procedure, and the blood vessels are reattached to the chest area using advanced microsurgical techniques.
The skin and fat below the navel are the ideal choice to replace a removed breast because it feels very similar to natural breast tissue. Only a small minority of plastic surgeons routinely perform DIEP flap surgery due to the technical difficulty of the procedure. Because of this, and due to the distinction of Restore Plastic Surgery as a preferred in-network provider of DIEP flap surgery, we welcome patients from across the country to visit us for this revolutionary procedure with our highly-trained and experienced DIEP flap surgeons.
Patients typically spend two to three nights in the hospital following DIEP flap surgery and are out of bed walking within 24 hours. Surgical drains may be placed for one to two weeks. Our DIEP flap surgeon will thoroughly explain all aspects of your recovery process and provide you with detailed pre and postoperative instructions to ensure an optimal procedure and recovery.
Patients may return for revision surgery about three months after the initial procedure to improve the symmetry and contour of the breast and undergo nipple reconstruction or 3D tattooing.
DIEP flap surgery is the gold standard in breast reconstruction, and for good reason. The benefits of this highly sought-after procedure include:
- The DIEP flap procedure uses only natural tissue from your own body.
- DIEP flap reconstruction uses only skin and fat, without sacrificing any underlying muscle.
- The procedure can create a flatter abdomen, much like a tummy tuck.
- The risk of abdominal complications, such as abdominal hernia and bulging, is very low compared to the conventional TRAM flap.
- Arm lymphedema can be treated simultaneously with vascularized lymph node transfer.
The DIEP flap procedure demands a high level of surgical precision to harvest natural tissue, reconnect blood vessels in a new area and shape the breast mound so it appears proportionate and natural. Dr. Brown and Dr. Chandler are personally committed to providing premium care during these complex procedures and throughout the recovery process.
If you are a woman who has lost one or both breasts due to mastectomy, lumpectomy defects or a congenital breast deficiency, you may be a candidate for DIEP flap breast reconstruction. This procedure is not recommended for patients who:
- Are morbidly obese (BMI over 35)
- Smoke or use nicotine
- Are in poor health
- Have undergone a previous abdominoplasty or other abdominal surgery that may have damaged the deep inferior epigastric vessels.
Just like our patients, every breast reconstruction is unique. The best way to know which reconstruction option is appropriate for you, and whether you are a good candidate for the DIEP flap procedure, is to meet personally with Dr. Ben Brown or Dr. Ashley Chandler at Restore Plastic Surgery. Together, you will determine the ideal breast replacement technique for you, based on your physical characteristics and individual goals.
Can I Have DIEP Flap Surgery if I Have Already Had a Mastectomy?
DIEP Flap surgery can be performed immediately after a mastectomy. Combining these procedures helps to reduce surgical and recovery time. However, in instances where a combination is not suitable, delayed reconstruction is possible.
DIEP Flap surgery can be performed at any time after your mastectomy, even several years down the road. There are several reasons reconstruction may need to be delayed, including ongoing radiation or chemotherapy, but personal preference plays a role as well. If you have already had a mastectomy and you are now exploring your breast reconstruction options, please get in touch to learn more.
How Long Will I Have to Stay in the Hospital After DIEP Flap Surgery?
You may need to stay in the hospital for up to five days following DIEP Flap surgery. Once you are released, it will be important to take a few more weeks to rest and recover before resuming most activities. Strenuous activities will need to be avoided for up to eight weeks.
From the moment your procedure is finished through your complete recovery, we will continue to provide assistance, direction, and support, helping to ensure your recovery process is as smooth and comfortable as possible.
What Are the Risks of DIEP Flap Surgery?
General surgical risks include bleeding, infection, and poor wound healing. Risks specific to DIEP Flap surgery include asymmetry, over or under correction, and partial or total flap loss. Flap loss occurs when clotting prevents proper blood flow to the flap. While not dangerous, this can damage the flap and necessitate additional procedures. Most common within the first 72 hours following DIEP Flap surgery, flap loss is one of the primary issues monitored during the hospital stay following breast reconstruction.
When Can I Sleep on My Side After DIEP Flap?
Following DIEP Flap surgery, you will want to avoid placing pressure on your reconstructed breast for several weeks. This means no side sleeping for at least two weeks and no sleeping on the stomach for at least four. Once your incisions have healed sufficiently, you can resume sleeping in your natural position.
The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) of 1998 ensures post-mastectomy patients the right to all stages of reconstruction of the breast on which the mastectomy was performed. However, most patients throughout the country have to travel out of state to find an in-network provider for DIEP flap surgery.
Restore Plastic Surgery is in-network with most insurance plans, and a preferred in-network DIEP flap provider for many plans. To learn if your insurance is a preferred in-network plan, please contact our office.
As a preferred in-network provider for DIEP flap surgery, we do accept out-of-town insurance plans for the companies listed above. If you are planning to visit us from out-of-state, we welcome you to review our travel information page to ensure your visit is smooth and comfortable.
Many women seeking breast reconstruction choose an implant-based approach to reform their breasts. Reconstruction with breast implants can be performed with saline or silicone implants that can be placed at the same time as your mastectomy or after mastectomy with the use of tissue expanders.
- Immediate breast reconstruction: Refers to a reconstruction performed at the time of a mastectomy.
- DIEP flap
- Direct-to-implant reconstruction is a single-stage procedure in which the saline or silicone breast implant is placed at the same time as the mastectomy. This procedure is appropriate for women with an adequate breast envelope able to accommodate an implant, and don’t need tissue expansion.
- Tissue Expander reconstruction is performed in two stages. First, a tissue expander is placed at the time of mastectomy. Tissue expanders are temporary devices that are filled with saline, gradually stretching the skin over a period of time where the implant will eventually be placed in the second stage by Dr. Brown or Dr. Chandler. During this second surgery, the expander is replaced by the final saline or silicone implant or DIEP flap.
- Delayed breast reconstruction: Refers to any reconstruction performed months to years after a mastectomy.
- DIEP flap
- TRAM flap
- Latissimus Flap
- Tissue Expander
Dr. Brown and Dr. Chandler are passionate about helping women with breast cancer reclaim their confidence and sense of femininity by performing the highest quality of breast reconstruction in the region. They will work closely with you to review your oncological plan, breast anatomy, reconstruction goals and available options to help you achieve your desired outcome.
We understand the deeply personal nature of breast reconstruction for cancer survivors, and we are committed to serving you with honesty, compassion and integrity.
Whether you choose an implant-based breast reconstruction or autologous DIEP flap procedure using your own tissue, it usually takes more than one stage to achieve optimal results. Revision surgery, or “stage 2” surgery, is often performed about three months after the initial procedure to fine-tune the reconstructed breast and improve its overall contour and appearance. Depending on the unique factors surrounding your breast reconstruction, revision surgery may be appropriate for:
- Tissue Expander: The tissue expander is replaced by the final saline or silicone breast implant in stage 2 surgery.
- Direct-to-implant reconstruction: This single-stage procedure can benefit from revision surgery with fat grafting to improve the soft tissue contour.
- DIEP flap breast reconstruction: Revision surgery may be performed for scar revisions, fat grafting and shaping of the reconstructed breast.
- Unilateral reconstruction: If reconstruction surgery was performed on only one breast, stage 2 surgery may be performed on the other breast to achieve improved symmetry.
- Revising previous breast reconstruction: Dr. Brown and Dr. Chandler often help women who are unhappy with results from another surgeon’s previous breast reconstruction.
At Restore Plastic Surgery, we are committed to providing you with the personalized attention and compassionate care you deserve. We understand what a deeply personal decision breast reconstruction can be following a mastectomy. We strive to provide you with all the information and honest guidance you need to make an informed decision about your breast reconstruction options.
During your initial consultation, you will meet personally with Dr. Brown or Dr. Chandler. During this confidential meeting, our breast reconstruction surgeon will work closely with you to understand your unique concerns and goals. We will assess your medical history, physical condition and provide you with information and surgical options personalized to your body.
We will assist with all aspects of your breast reconstruction procedure, including scheduling your appointments, obtaining insurance pre-authorization and coordinating the care you receive from our practice, your oncologist and other doctors involved with your treatment.
Out of town patients are welcome to use our virtual consultation portal to begin the process from anywhere in the country.
Mastectomies can be performed in a variety of ways. A number of factors will be considered in order to determine which approach is appropriate for you. The most common mastectomy techniques include:
- Skin-sparing mastectomy: This technique may be used for immediate, single-stage breast reconstruction. It leaves the skin covering the breast intact, although the nipple and areola will likely be removed.
- Nipple-sparing mastectomy: With this procedure, only the underlying breast tissue is removed, while the nipple and areola are unaffected. This technique is also referred to as a "subcutaneous mastectomy."
- Double mastectomy: This procedure involves the removal of both breasts. Women who undergo a double mastectomy are typically at a high risk of developing breast cancer in the other breast, and choose the procedure as a preventive measure.
- Prophylactic mastectomy: Women with mutated BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have a 60% risk of developing breast cancer and may elect to undergo a risk-reducing prophylactic mastectomy.
There are other types of mastectomy which may be discussed by our plastic surgeons, your general surgeon and your oncologist as you plan your treatment. We will work closely with you and your medical team to design a comprehensive treatment plan that is best suited for your needs.
Dr. Ben Brown and Dr. Ashley Chandler take their roles in your journey toward breast cancer recovery personally. We are very sensitive to the traumatic nature of your experience and are committed to providing you with the compassionate, personalized care you deserve through every stage of your recovery process.
Restore Plastic Surgery has established an outstanding reputation for excellence in the Pensacola region. Not only do we offer the most breast reconstruction options in the area, we are among the very few practices whose surgeons possess the high level of training, experience and meticulous skill required to perform DIEP flap breast reconstruction. As a preferred in-network provider for DIEP flap surgery, we can help breast cancer survivors from across the country and the globe access the premium quality of care and impeccable results they deserve.
While many seek the care of our breast reconstruction surgeons based on their exceptional credentials and proven history of beautiful results, it is our compassion and integrity that help to build long-lasting relationships with our patients. This is your procedure and your life; we are proud to help restore your appearance and self-confidence.
Please call Restore Plastic Surgery today at 850-500-7527 to schedule your consultation or schedule online. Our office in Pensacola, Florida serves patients from across the state, Mobile Alabama, and throughout the country.