Medically Reviewed by Dr. Bailey

| plastic reconstructive surgeons

Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer often need to have one or both of their breasts removed, in part or in full, via a procedure known as a mastectomy. There are multiple options available for breast reconstruction, allowing women to regain their pre-surgery silhouette after breast removal. Two of the most common options are DIEP flap reconstruction and reconstruction via implants. 

Understanding the Options

DIEP flap breast reconstruction, or free tissue transfer reconstruction, uses excess skin and fat from your lower abdomen to reconstruct one or both breasts after losing breast tissue to cancer. By contrast, implant-based reconstruction is a procedure in which artificial implants are used to rebuild the breasts.

Which Option is Right for You?

The question is, which reconstructive approach is better? The answer will vary from patient to patient.

If you are eligible for it, the DIEP flap technique provides a result that looks more natural and can feel more comfortable than implant-based reconstruction. While breast implants are safe for the body, they still carry some risks that DIEP flap breast reconstruction avoids, making free tissue transfer reconstruction the ideal option for overall breast health.

However, not everyone is eligible for DIEP flap reconstruction. Some patients simply do not have enough extra abdominal tissue for use in DIEP flap reconstruction, which means they are only eligible for implant reconstruction or PAP flap reconstruction, which pulls tissue from the upper inner thigh. (Naturally, some patients will have insufficient tissue for the PAP approach, making implants their only reconstructive option.) Additionally, you may be ineligible for the DIEP flap technique if you have had a tummy tuck or other abdominal surgeries in the past, if you have severe exercise intolerance, or if you have significant and untreated heart disease.

Discover Your Options for Breast Reconstruction

At Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeons, we have more than 30 years of experience providing patients with excellent cosmetic and plastic surgical care. We would love to tell you more about your eligibility for the DIEP flap procedure or for other breast reconstruction options. Reach out to our Washington office to schedule a consultation at (425) 228-3187.

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