The DIEP stands for Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator flap which refers to the blood vessels supplying the flap. DIEP flap breast reconstruction is a technique which uses the skin and fat from the lower abdomen to make a breast. The DIEP flap breast reconstruction is the most popular flap reconstruction and is reliable form of reconstruction with low complication rates. It can produce a soft natural looking and feeling breast. In suitable patients, removing excess skin and fat can often be a bonus as it can flatten and improve the abdominal contour similar to a “Tummy Tuck” or abdominoplasty procedure. It does however, result in a scar from hip to hip.
It can be performed at the time of mastectomy known as immediate reconstruction or as a delayed procedure after you have completed your cancer treatment. It is also a very useful technique if you previously had an implant reconstruction that has deteriorated or become tight and uncomfortable. In this situation, the implant is removed and replaced by your own tissues.
While it is a more invasive surgery and with a longer recovery in the short term, DIEP flap reconstruction has many advantages in the longer term. Once the reconstruction in complete, revision surgery is rarely required in the future.
Other flap options include taking tissue from the back (Lattisimus Dorsi Flap) or from the inner thighs (TUG Flap) or from the buttock area (SGAP flap). These flaps are less commonly performed and are generally reserved for ladies who are not suitable for a DIEP.