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Diep Flap vs. Implant Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction surgeries typically involve either a flap procedure or implants. However, women have additional options available to them as well.
At Bedford Breast Center, we consider breast reconstruction surgery to be a critical part of the healing process and work to give you beautiful results you will love. Instead of performing traditional flap procedures, we have developed our own reconstruction techniques known as Goldilocks and SWIM.
These proprietary treatment options ensure that our Los Angeles, CA, patients not only find their way back to health but also restore self-confidence in their appearance.
DIEP Flap Surgery
DIEP flap surgery is one of several breast reconstructive options that uses a woman’s own tissue in addition to or in place of an implant. Specifically, skin, fat, and blood vessels from a woman’s lower belly are taken and moved to rebuild the breast.
Advantages of DIEP Flap Reconstruction
- Natural look and feel of the reconstructed breast
- Preserves core muscle function
- Because the abdominal muscle is left intact, there is minimal risk of hernia
- Removal of excess fat from the abdomen can provide some patients with a flatter, more contoured stomach (similar to a tummy tuck)
Drawbacks to DIEP Flap Reconstruction
- Longer surgery compared to procedures with implants
- More complex than the TRAM flap procedure
- Needs two surgical sites (belly and breast), increasing the amount of pain and recovery time
- Produces more than one scar
DIEP Flap Surgery Complications
All types of surgeries come with the risk of side effects and complications. Breast reconstruction is no exception. Anyone considering this surgery should have it done by a qualified, board-certified surgeon with extensive training in breast reconstruction techniques.
Possible complications from a DIEP Flap Surgery include:
- Lumps formed from scar tissue
- Fluid buildup
- Loss of sensation
- Blood supply issues
- Tissue rejection (very rare)
At the Bedford Breast Center in Beverly Hills, CA, we are fortunate to have renowned breast cancer reconstruction surgeon, Dr. Lisa Cassileth, as part of our team.
A pioneer in breast reconstruction, Dr. Cassileth has developed a unique technique called direct-to-implant reconstruction, in which mastectomy and reconstruction are done at the same time.
Direct-to-implant reconstruction skips the need for tissue expanders, which are typically required in traditional breast reconstruction. Instead, the procedure goes straight to the implant. That’s why it’s also referred to as a one-stage or single-stage breast reconstruction.
This advanced procedure involves placing the breast implants during the same surgery as the mastectomy. Patients avoid weeks or months of repeated surgeries, allowing them to leave the hospital with their new, reconstructed breasts and get back to their lives more quickly.
Advantages of Implants
Direct-to-implant reconstruction offers the following benefits:
- Wake from your surgeries with breasts
- No need for multiple surgeries and office visits
- Natural-looking results with superior symmetry
- Minimal scarring
- Quicker return to regular activities and a positive body image
At our medical center, it is our goal to cancel cancer, not beauty. We focus our efforts on improving cosmetic outcomes and helping patients find comfort and empowerment in breast reconstruction. Therefore, we have developed revolutionary breast reconstruction techniques that do not require implants or free flaps, while still providing superior results.
Dr. Cassileth created the SWIM technique, a breast reconstruction technique inspired by Dr. Heather Richardson’s published no implant/breast mound procedure, the Goldilocks mastectomy.
Goldilocks mastectomy is a breast cancer treatment option that removes unhealthy breast gland tissue while preserving healthy tissue and skin. This means that unlike the DIEP Flap Reconstruction, Goldilocks mastectomy does not require the use of implanted devices or surgical tissue transfer techniques to create the fullness of a breast after removal of the underlying glandular tissue.
Co-developed by our very own Dr. Richardson, Goldilocks mastectomy leaves a patient with a smaller breast with no nipple present instead of a lack of one after a mastectomy, providing the best possible immediate outcome in a single procedure with minimal downtime.
Dr. Cassileth and Dr. Richardson advanced the technique further, preserving the nipple and recruiting more local fat into the area. The SWIM breast reconstruction technique does not involve implants or tissue transfer techniques.
Instead, the SWIM technique utilizes the remaining healthy breast tissue, leaving the patient with smaller, natural breasts and a superior cosmetic result. The method resembles a breast reduction.
Any patient who prefers to avoid implant reconstruction, flap reconstruction (such as DIEP flap or TRAM flap), extensive incisions, a long recovery time, or multiple procedures is an ideal candidate. The SWIM technique is most effective for large-breasted women who want natural-looking breasts after mastectomy.
How Do I Know Which is Right For Me?
Nearly every woman can consider breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy. If mastectomy is in your future, schedule a consultation with one of the board-certified surgeons at our Los Angeles, CA medical center. We can help you create a reconstruction plan that meets your needs and goals.
A consultation will help you understand what options are best suited to you. It will also enable our team to help you create a breast cancer reconstruction plan that provides the best medical outcome and cosmetic results.
Schedule an Appointment at Our Beverly Hills Medical Center Today
At Bedford Breast Center in Los Angeles, CA, we recognize how important it is for breast cancer patients to look and feel good about themselves while recovering from cancer. For more information about breast reconstruction procedures or to schedule an appointment, contact the Bedford Breast Center servicing Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and the greater Los Angeles area.