Breast reconstruction after mastectomy combines tummy tuck

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

A new plastic surgery technique offers women the option breast reconstruction after mastectomy for breast cancer that also provides a tummy tuck. The surgery, called Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) flap procedure, uses skin from the tummy to reconstruct a woman’s breasts after mastectomy to prevent breast cancer, following breast removal for cancer.

The plastic surgery that includes breast reconstruction after mastectomy, combined with a tummy tuck, is a type of microsurgery with quick recovery time. The procedure preserves muscle, and provides a natural appearance to the breasts, an option that may be appealing to women.

According to Dr. Michel Saint-Cyr, assistant professor of plastic surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center, “The DIEP flap procedure can offer women seeking breast reconstruction after a mastectomy some of the advantages of a more natural breast with the effects of a tummy tuck. Although it is more complex surgery, it preserves muscles for quicker recovery and less postoperative pain,” Dr. Saint-Cyr is one of the few surgeons in the nation trained to perform the procedure.

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A major advantage is that women can have breast reconstruction performed immediately after mastectomy. Breast reconstruction is performed using skin and fat from the abdomen, thus providing the tummy tuck.

According to Jennifer Jablon, a 37 year old mother who opted for the plastic surgery procedure after her own mastectomy, “The goal was to go to sleep with two and wake up with two.” Jennifer had both breasts removed prophylactically after testing positive for the high risk for breast cancer BRCA1 gene, and after four cysts were found in her breasts.

Dr. Saint-Cyr says breast reconstruction using skin and fat from the abdomen provides women with youthful, firmer, and more natural breasts after mastectomy. Additionally, the breasts age naturally.

The plastic surgery procedure is complex, and travel might be necessary – only 40 surgeons are trained to perform the DEIP procedure nationwide.

For women who undergo mastectomy for breast cancer, the new plastic surgery technique can provide another option for breast reconstruction that does not require implants. Using abdominal skin and fat also provides a tummy tuck. You can watch a video here.