DIEP Flap Reconstruction in New Jersey
DIEP Surgery in Monmouth County and the Jersey Shore, and West Long Branch NJ
Women who have undergone a lumpectomy or mastectomy can benefit from breast reconstruction surgery. Through this treatment, plastic surgeons use implants or autologous tissue to help women who have faced the scourge of cancer feel whole and confident again. As one of the leading breast reconstruction specialists in Monmouth County NJ, Dr. Rahul Vemula has worked with countless reconstruction patients from Monmouth County areas such as Long Branch, West Long Branch, Eatontown, Rumson, Fairhaven, and Redbank. Many of his patients also travel from surrounding Jersey Shore areas such as Brick, Toms River, Ocean County, Middlesex county, Central New Jersey , and New York City.
Dr. Vemula offers DIEP (deep inferior epigastric artery perforator) flap reconstruction. This is a type of autologous technique where skin and tissue are taken from the abdomen and then transferred to the chest to reconstruct the new breast(s). Since the rectus abdominis muscles are spared during DIEP reconstructions, this option has become very popular especially among women who would prefer to use their own natural body tissue instead of implants.
Am I a good candidate for DIEP flap surgery?
You may be a good candidate for DIEP flap reconstruction if:
- You are in good physical shape and can be able to withstand surgery
- You have undergone a mastectomy, or are planning to undergo one
- You have disfigurement of the breasts due to an injury, birth defect, radiation, lumpectomy, or mastectomy
- You have a breast defect, abnormality, or asymmetry and are seeking an aesthetic improvement
The following factors have a bearing on the surgery and should be considered before you decide to move forward with this procedure:
- Age – Although breast reconstruction surgery can be done at any age, older patients are more likely to have more medical comorbidities that may preclude them from withstanding the longer operative times needed for a DIEP flap.
- Cancer Treatment – Ongoing cancer treatment can influence the timing of DIEP flap surgery. Dr. Vemula regularly attends Breast Tumor Boards at several area hospitals and discusses timing of surgery with his colleagues such as breast oncologic surgeons, oncologists and radiation oncologists. This multidisciplinary approach ensures optimal and safe outcomes for patients.
- Anatomical Considerations– In order to have a DIEP flap one must have excess skin and abdominal tissue in the lower abdomen and intact vessels called “perforators.” In order to determine if you are a good candidate for a DIEP flap, and in person examination is needed as well as a CT Angiogram to assess the quality of the perforators.
- Overall Health – Anyone in interested in DIEP flap must also be in overall good health without any major medical issues and be able to withstand general anesthesia.
How is DIEP Reconstruction Performed?
With DIEP flap reconstruction, Dr Vemula will use microsurgical techniques to excise skin, fat, and associated blood vessels from the lower abdomen without without harming the core muscles. The harvested DIEP flap is then transferred to the chest wall and the blood vessels are reconnected at the mastectomy site using microsurgery. An operating microscope is used to connect blood vessels that are approximately 2 mm in diameter. The stitches that are used to accomplish this are the thickness of a human eyelash.
One of the key advantages of this technique is that the reconstructed breast feels and looks much like a natural breast. In addition, there is an added benefit of removing unwanted skin and fat in the lower abdomen similar to what is done during a tummy tuck. Therefore, the DIEP flap is often nicknamed the “Tummy Tuck” breast reconstruction.
DIEP reconstruction may be performed at the same time as the mastectomy, or at a later date depending on the specific desires of patients as well as oncologic safety.
Unlike many other surgeons in the area, Dr. Vemula’s patients do not go to the ICU after a DIEP flap. Patients are transferred to a private room for a more comfortable recovery and family members are usually allowed to stay overnight. An enhanced Recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocol is used so that patients’ pain is adequately controlled and are usually discharged home within 2-3 days following surgery.
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Planning your DIEP Flap Surgery in NJ
Breast reconstruction surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia at accredited health facilities. Patients may be able to go home after the procedure or stay for a day or two depending on the severity of the procedure. Dr. Vemula will provide compression garments to cover your wounds and allow proper healing after the surgery. Pain medication and muscle relaxers will be provided to help you deal with any discomfort. The surgeon will also provide post-op wound care instructions to help make sure that your recovery goes on uninterrupted. Patients are usually required to wear a supportive bra to help support and shape the breasts throughout the 6-week recovery.
The cost of DIEP flap reconstruction for the purposes of breast reconstruction is covered by health insurance as per federal law. Our highly skilled team of insurance professionals will obtain preauthorization with insurance prior to your procedure.
Dr. Vemula performs DIEP flap breast reconstruction at area hospitals with the highest quality of mircrosurgical instruments and with highly qualified perioperative care teams such as anesthesiologists and nursing staff that are specifically trained to care for DIEP flap patients.
DIEP Flap Cost
The cost of DIEP flap reconstruction for the purposes of breast reconstruction is covered by health insurance as per federal law.
DIEP Flap Recovery
Due to Dr. Vemula’s usage of enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols, you will have minimal pain after DIEP Flap surgery. Most patients are resume their regular activities within a few weeks of the procedure. Patients are usually required to wear a supportive bra to help support and shape the breasts throughout the 6-week recovery.
Surgery time will vary per patient.
DIEP Flap FAQs
What are the benefits of DIEP flap reconstruction?
DIEP flap breast reconstruction offers various unique benefits to the patient:
- Creates a natural-looking breast
- Often offers the benefits of a tummy tuck
- Improves your abdominal contour
- Removes the anxiety of having to live with implants
- Quicker recovery compared to some other procedures
- Reduced need for revision surgery
How is recovery after DIEP flap surgery?
Due to Dr. Vemula’s usage of enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols, you will have minimal pain after DIEP Flap surgery. Most patients are resume their regular activities within a few weeks of the procedure.
Does this procedure increase the risk of cancer?
DIEP reconstruction will not increase your risk of cancer recurrence. This procedure also does not increase your risk for other types of cancer.
How many operations will I need?
Following DIEP flap reconstruction, some women may need to undergo a revisional procedure. This depends on factors such as a patient’s specific anatomy as well as other considerations such as if a patient received radiation therapy as part of their cancer treatment. This is highly individualized and the need for additional surgeries will be addressed at your initial consultation.