Breast cancer is a devastating, life-altering illness that continues to impact more than 1 in every 8 women in the United States every year. The good news is that amazing advances in cancer treatment means that more and more women are beating this deadly disease. The bad news is that for many of these women, successful treatment for breast cancer involves invasive surgery to remove one or both of the breasts. Although mastectomy continues to be a vital, life-saving procedure, the emotional impact of losing a vital, visible part of your body can be almost as devastating as the disease itself.
Luckily, advancements in cancer treatment have been accompanied by equally amazing advancements in breast reconstruction techniques. Utilizing cutting-edge technologies such as the “DIEP flap”, skilled and talented reconstructive surgeons such as Dr. James Black and Dr. Michael Arnstein in Torrance, CA can recreate breasts that look and feel feminine and natural. Breast reconstruction surgery is a highly customized procedure that will vary in detail for each unique woman, depending on her prior surgery, her anatomy, and her aesthetic goals. The end goal, however, is always the same: the ability to fit clothes and swimsuits properly without the use of additional padding, a “normal”, feminine body profile, and an enhanced self-confidence to help facilitate true recovery and true healing.
Benefits of the DIEP Technique
Dr. Black and Dr. Arnstein specialize in a cutting-edge microsurgical breast reconstruction technique known as the DIEP technique. In medical jargon, DIEP stands for Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator. Simply put, this technique involves removing a “flap” of fatty tissue and skin, along with arteries, veins, and smaller blood vessels, from the abdomen and transferring to the chest to create a natural-looking new breast. This procedure is ideal for women who do not have a significant amount of natural breast tissue left after the original mastectomy.
As noted by Dr. Black, this cutting-edge procedure is “the Cadillac of reconstructive techniques” and offers a number of significant benefits over other “flap” procedures:
- High success rate (98% clinically determined)
- Breasts that look and feel natural, growing and shrinking with the rest of the body
- Avoids damage to the abdominal muscle, enabling women to recover full abdominal strength
- Avoids use of foreign materials or objects
- Offers a “whole” recovery, avoiding a “shocking” appearance, when performed in coordination with a skin-sparing mastectomy
Your DIEP Procedure
A complete DIEP procedure requires several surgical procedures spaced over several months. The first step in which the flap is removed and the breast rebuilt can be performed at the time of the mastectomy or in the months afterwards, depending on the details on your specific case.
Step 1: The “flap” of tissue and skin, including a gastric artery, veins, and other blood vessels, is removed from the abdomen using an incision stretching from hipbone to hipbone. Once the flap is removed, the belly button is repositioned and the incision closed. A beneficial side effect of this part of the procedure is that it often leaves the abdomen tighter and smoother than it was before the surgery!
The abdominal flap is transferred to the chest. Utilizing advanced microvascular surgical techniques, the arteries and veins in the flap are connected to the blood supply at the site of the new breast and the flap is molded into the appropriate shape. Stitches will pinpoint the arterial flow to enable critical monitoring of the blood supply to the new breast. Drains may be placed at both the donor site and the new breast(s) to prevent the build-up of excess fluid.
Step 2: Routine follow-up visits with your reconstructive surgeon will begin one week after surgery and continue for the next 4 to 6 weeks until you are ready to return to work and other normal activities. At these visits, your surgeon will monitor the healing process of both the breast and the abdomen, remove any drains, and potentially adjust the shape of the breast and/or the abdomen to ensure a natural match to your physique.
Step 3: Three to four months after your surgery, you will be ready for your surgeon to recreate a nipple for your breast. This will be done utilizing tissue from the breast itself; once the new nipple has healed, your surgeon will tattoo a natural-looking color onto the nipple and recreate the areola around the nipple.
Breast Reconstruction with SGAP Flap
In certain cases, women may not have sufficient abdominal tissue to reconstruct the breasts, either due to natural thinness or damage caused by previous surgeries in the abdomen. In these cases, your surgeon may suggest an SGAP flap (superior gluteal artery perforator) in which the flap is removed from the upper buttocks and hip. Like the DIEP, only fatty tissue, blood vessels, and skin are removed to avoid muscular damage. The procedure is the same as described for the DIEP flap reconstruction above, although it may involve a longer hospital stay and additional recovery time.
Contact Dr. Black & Dr. Arnstein
Dr. James Black and Dr. Michael Arnstein have combined their extensive experience and skills in the fields of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery into a practice that encompasses the highest standards of patient care. Their cutting-edge surgical facility includes state-of-the-art workstations and incorporates the latest and most effective techniques in the industry. Dr. Black, Dr. Arnstein, and their highly trained team are committed to offering unparalleled cosmetic and reconstructive services with only the highest level of professionalism and regard for safe, effectual aesthetic results. The best plastic surgery procedures and non-surgical rejuvenation treatments with Dr. Black and Dr. Arnstein in Torrance, CA will leave you looking, and feeling, confident and radiant with supremely natural results!
If you would like to learn more about breast reconstruction utilizing the DIEP flap technique with Drs. Black and Arnstein, please contact us at 310-530-4200 to schedule your initial consultation. We look forward to hearing from you today!