The below question is answered by Charleston breast surgeon, Dr. Richard M. Kline, Jr. of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction:
What are the benefits of the DIEP flap breast reconstruction over other options?
I am going to break this question into two parts.
The first part is what are the benefits of the DIEP flap over reconstructive options using implants? Let us start with the benefits of implants. The primary benefit of implant is that the operations are shorter, they are potentially safer, and you do not need to operate on another part of the body. Additionally, implants are readily available, and if you do not have enough extra body tissue somewhere to make a breast, implants may be the preferred choice for this reason. The advantage of the DIEP flap over implants is that it produces a much more natural feeling, warmer, and trouble free breast (after the reconstruction process is completed). There is data to suggest that women tend to accept the reconstructed breast as their own more readily if it is made using their own tissue, in comparison to women who have a reconstructed breast using implants. Additionally, many women feel that they have too much extra tissue in their abdominal area, and they may actually view removing this tissue to make a breast as an added bonus.
The second part of this answer is going to be why is the DIEP flap better than other reconstructive options using the patients own tissue, with the most commonly performed in our practice being the GAP or gluteal artery perforator flap, which is taking the buttock. The primarily advantage of the DIEP over the GAP is that it is faster, and no position changes are needed during surgery to harvest the flap. If the patient has adequate abdominal tissue to meet her reconstructive needs, we generally recommend using this as our first line option. Having said that, however, the buttock serves very well to make breast, although the process is a little more tedious and lengthy.
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