Generally, a patient might have to wait up to six months before getting a new breast following a mastectomy. Dr. Robert Whitfield, a board certified plastic surgeon from Austin, Texas, explains that the procedures used at his office at The Breast and Body Center of Austin can ensure that most patients will have an immediate breast reconstruction after their mastectomy in the same surgery. “If you’re going to sleep with your breasts and you have a mastectomy; we want you to wake up with a new breast. Hopefully better than the one you had, but we want you to wake up with breast reconstruction.”
Successful Results with DIEP Flap
Dr. Whitfield and the surgeons at the Breast and Body Center of Austin utilize the DIEP Flap procedure to build a patient’s breast from their own tissue without implants. “Our success rate is 99.3 % with respect to DIEP Flaps; it’s one of the best in the country,” says Dr. Whitfield. “We have an entire team devoted to taking care of you, either two plastic surgeons and a physicians assistant or three plastic surgeons operate on your loved one each time they have a breast reconstruction. About 90% of our patients go on to have immediate breast reconstruction with their own tissue. And just like when you have a lumpectomy in radiation therapy, if you need post mastectomy radiation therapy, you can have it and everything will be fine afterwards.”
The DIEP Flap procedure replaces the skin and soft tissue removed with living tissue by moving skin and fatty tissue from the abdomen. A thin incision along the bikini line is made much like that used for a tummy tuck. The required skin, soft tissue, and tiny feeding blood vessels are removed and transferred to the mastectomy site. These tiny blood vessels are matched to supplying vessels and reattached under a microscope, giving the patient’s new breast a functioning blood supply.
Safety of Breast Reconstruction
Dr. Whitfield explains how “there are no increased recurring incidents of cancer with breast reconstruction. It does not cause any problems with you being examined by your breast surgeon and overall we think it’s better for you psychologically and emotionally.”
With the DIEP flap breast reconstruction, your outcome will be natural because the breast will be made without muscle removal. “The rectus abdominus remains intact which allows for patients to still use full strength of the muscle.” Recovery periods will differ for each patient. Usually, you will be sore and tired for the first one to two weeks after surgery. After two weeks, your energy levels will increase each day.
“We utilize our resources to make the operation the most efficient as possible for you, keeping you under anesthesia in the least amount of time is our goal,” says Dr. Whitfield.