Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy with Autologous Tissue
Autologous breast reconstruction is a type of breast reconstruction that uses tissue from another part of your body to form a breast shape. This tissue can be fat, muscle, and/or skin, and usually comes from the belly, back, buttocks, or inner thighs. At DC Plastic Surgery Boutique, we use two main types of tissue flaps in our breast reconstruction: DIEP flaps and Latissimus flaps.
DIEP stands for Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator, which is the name of the blood vessel that goes to the lower portion of the belly. With a DIEP flap, the fat and skin of the lower belly are transferred to the upper chest to rebuild the breast. We use a microscope and very small sutures to sew the blood vessels from the DIEP flap to the blood vessels in your chest to keep the flap alive in its new location. Using a DIEP flap means that no muscle is used, which results in a faster recovery and a lower risk of developing weakness in the abdominal wall.
A latissimus flap uses the latissimus dorsi muscle, along with the skin and fat of your mid-back to reconstruct the breast. The latissimus dorsi muscle is a broad, flat muscle on your back that you use when doing pull-ups. The latissimus muscle is one of many muscles that supports your shoulder girdle; therefore, it can be removed without any significant functional defecit. The rest of the muscles of your shoulder girldle take its place when it is moved. The flap is lifted from your back and turned under your arm to reconstruct your breast mound. The blood vessels remain intact, meaning that the blood supply for your breast comes from the original location on your back. Latissimus flaps are used in patients who are not good candidates for DIEP flap reconstruction.
Did You Know… That autologous breast reconstruction has excellent results in the long term? Because it is your own natural tissue, autologous breast reconstruction gains and loses weight with you, ages with you, and continues to look and feel like you throughout your lifetime.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I a candidate for Autologous Breast Reconstruction?
If you have undergone or will be undergoing a mastectomy, then you may be a candidate for autologous breast reconstruction. The type of autologous breast reconstruction will depend upon your cancer treatment, body habitus, and overall health.
What should I expect during an Autologous Breast Reconstruction procedure?
Before the surgery, your doctor will provide you with guidelines on eating and drinking, adjusting medications, and quitting smoking. The day of the surgery, you will arrive at the hospital and undergo general anesthesia. During the procedure, tissue will be moved from one area of the body to your chest to reconstruct your breast. The type of procedure will determine where and how the tissue is being relocated.
Will I need to follow any special post-op instructions after my autologous breast reconstruction?
After surgery, you will need to take any medications that are prescribed by your doctor. This will help reduce your pain and risk of infection. You may also have drainage tubes to remove excess fluids and these will need to be kept clean, as well as any sutures. Specific instructions will be provided to you depending on the type of surgery.