The DIEP Flap Breast reconstruction technique utilizes skin and fatty tissue from the lower abdomen to naturally reconstruct the breast.
The breast surgeon will perform the mastectomy at the breast site, while Dr. Tanna will simultaneously begin harvesting the tissue from your abdomen for the DIEP flap. During this meticulous dissection, the flap (lower abdominal skin and fat) is isolated on only its feeding blood vessels (perforators). The harvesting of the flap is performed with high power magnification glasses, called loupes.
After the mastectomy is completed, Dr. Tanna will identify the chest blood vessels (internal mammary artery and vein) to connect with the blood vessels of the DIEP flap. This connection of the chest vessels (internal mammary vessels) to the donor abdomen vessels (DIEP flap vessels) is what restores blood flow to the DIEP flap, so the tissue can be supplied with nutrients to stay healthy in the new location. These blood vessels are small and delicate, with their size ranging from 1.0 to 3.0 millimeters in diameter.
With the chest vessels identified and the flap of tissue ready to place to restore the breast, the DIEP flap with its specifically chosen blood vessels is now transferred to the chest. Under the operating microscope the flap blood vessels are connected to the recipient blood vessels in the chest. This microsurgery is what provides nourishment to your natural tissue so it can flourish. Following the connection (anastomosis), the flap is then shaped to form a soft, natural breast.