This week, Dr. James Craigie of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction answers your questions.
Question: My wife had a double mastectomy 10 years ago. At that time she had latissimus surgery to fill in her breasts. Since then, we’ve had numerous surgeries, about every 2 years, due to scar tissue building up in 1 of the 2 (or both) breasts that causes tightening and even pain. Will scar tissue buildup be a concern with the Gap Flap? 2. Regarding the Gap Flap procedure, what is the rate of failure that you experience with any of the 4 surgery sites (2 buttocks, 2 breasts)? Thanks.
Answer: Hi — I’m assuming your wife has implants under the latissimus flaps, which would explain the buildup of scar tissue. GAP flaps are generally large enough to make a breast by themselves (obviously, sizes differ among different people), so implants are not needed, and internal scar buildup would be a very rare event. We last calculated our statistics in October of last year. Over 10 years, we did 217 GAPs, 49 as unilateral, 168 as simultaneous bilateral. The GAP flap survival rate was 97% overall. All of the failures were in bilateral cases, but no patient lost both flaps, yielding a simultaneous bilateral flap survival rate of 96.4%. We have done quite a few GAPs since then with no failures (most recently a simultaneous bilateral last week), so the current statistics are actually a little better than that. We don’t bury flaps, and therefore can’t miss (or ignore) a failure, so these are ironclad statistics that could survive a GAO audit. To our knowledge, only Dr. Allen (who invented breast perforator flaps and trained the rest of us), his ex-partners in New Orleans, and ourselves actually do simultaneous bilateral GAP flaps on a routine basis. I’d be happy to discuss your situation further if you wish, just call or email.
Dr. James Craigie
Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction
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