New York - Advances in breast reconstruction techniques have dramatically improved the options for breast cancer treatment. At Beth Israel Medical Center, our renowned reconstructive plastic surgeons are using the DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap technique in which the surgeon removes skin and fat from the abdomen and transplants it to the mastectomy site. Unlike older procedures, the DIEP flap doesn't require the removal of abdominal muscle when forming the breast mound. The skin and fat along with the small blood vessels that go into them are detached and reconnected in the breast area so that the tissues can live up there. In addition to an improvement in the abdominal contour, another benefit of DIEP flap surgery is faster recovery and less abdominal discomfort. Beth Israel Medical Center presents a live Webcast of the DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery on Friday, January 11, 2007 from 5:00 – 6:00 PM.
Most mastectomy patients are appropriate candidates for breast reconstruction. Of course, the decision is a highly personal one, to be reached by the woman, her family, and her medical team. A patient can start talking about reconstruction with her physician as soon as she receives her cancer diagnosis.
While breast reconstruction doesn't need to be done immediately following surgery, there are several benefits to performing immediate reconstruction— the patient will have to face just one operation, one hospitalization and one recuperation. Plus, there are certain procedures that allow for a better reconstruction that plastic surgeons can perform only at the time of a mastectomy. Perhaps most importantly, studies have shown that immediate reconstruction helps women get through this traumatic time more easily. There are also reasons to wait, however. If you aren't comfortable with making the decision right away, you don't want more surgery, or if the reconstruction calls for a more complicated procedure, then you may want to postpone reconstruction.
Mark Smith, MD, FACS
Microvascular Surgery, Craniofacial Surgery
William Samson, MD
Breast Reconstruction, Microsurgery, Cosmetic Surgery
Sheldon Feldman, MD FACS