Some of the most important and life-changing work that we do here at Atlanta Plastic Surgery involves breast reconstruction. There are currently more than 2.8 million women with a history of breast cancer in the United States, and for many of those women the process of recovery and regaining control over their lives involves breast reconstruction surgery. After undergoing a mastectomy, many women choose to have their breasts reconstructed using silicone or saline breast implants, like those commonly used during breast augmentation surgery, but for those interested in a more natural approach, tissue flaps may present another option. However, it is important to remember that every woman is unique and so every breast reconstruction procedure needs to be individually tailored to the patient’s needs.
Tissue flap breast reconstruction is a body contouring procedure that involves using skin, muscle, and/or fat that has been taken from other areas of the body to rebuild the breast mound. Because differing body types have different requirements, there are actually several types of tissue flap surgery, each named for the area of the body from which the tissue can be taken. Here are three of the most common approaches:
TRAM Flap: Among the most common forms of tissue flap surgery, a TRAM flap takes a portion of the transverse rectus abdominis muscle, which is found in the lower belly, and moves it to the chest. This approach attempts to preserve natural blood flow to the tissue, thus creating a naturally growing breast mound. It also has the added benefit of removing excess fat and skin from the abdomen, achieving an effect similar to an abdominoplasty, or “tummy tuck” procedure.
LD Flap: Muscle, fat, and skin from the latissimus dorsi (LD) region of the upper back are directed from under the skin and into the chest area, where it can be formed into a new breast. The scar on the back is easily concealed by the bra line, and in some cases breast implants are placed during the procedure to make the breasts appear larger.
DIEP Flap: Similar to a TRAM flap procedure, a DIEP flap uses the fat and skin from the lower abdomen to form a breast mound, in addition to achieving similar “tummy tuck” results (however, it does not use any muscle). This helps to prevent the loss of strength in the abdominal wall that can be a potential side effect of a TRAM flap procedure.
Every woman’s journey is different and ultimately your personal body type along with the specific details of your breast cancer treatment will play important roles in determining which breast reconstruction course is right for you, and so you should consult with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons to explore your individual options. Please feel free to contact Atlanta Plastic Surgery in Alpharetta, or one of our other Atlanta-area offices located in Sandy Springs (Northside), Newnan, or Cumming, to schedule a breast reconstruction consultation. Don’t forget to also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery news.