Flap Procedures for Natural Breast Reconstruction: Understanding Your Options

gap flapWhen a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, she will be faced with many decisions including “Do I want breast reconstruction?” and if so, “What kind of reconstruction is best for me?” With numerous options available, it is important to evaluate each choice and decide which is best for each woman individually.

Breast reconstruction using the patient’s own tissue, also known as autologous tissue reconstruction, is becoming more and more popular for many reasons. Here, we’ll discuss two options in more detail – the deep inferior epigastric (DIEP) flap and the (gluteal artery perforator) GAP flap.

What is the DIEP Flap?

The DIEP flap procedure reconstructs the breasts using tissue from the patient’s abdomen. The tissue consists of mostly skin and fat and never includes the muscle.

What Is the GAP Flap?

The GAP flap reconstructs the breasts using tissue from the patient’s buttocks. The tissue consists of mostly skin and fat as well and never includes the muscle.

What Are the Benefits of Each One?

Women who are considering natural reconstruction often choose one of these two flap procedures according to what benefits her individual needs. The DIEP flap is popular with many patients because of its potential to provide “tummy tuck” results – a flatter appearance to the lower belly. Meanwhile, patients who elect the GAP flap might prefer the benefit of removing tissue from the buttock area instead. In either case, muscles are spared, reducing recovery time. It is important to note that both procedures can be used for unilateral cases (only one breast needing reconstruction) or bilateral cases (both breasts needing reconstruction).

What Results Should a Patient Expect?

With both the DIEP and GAP flap procedures, the result is a breast reconstructed from the patient’s own bodily tissue. For this reason, patients are often more satisfied with a natural reconstruction than with implant reconstruction. However, the recovery time can be longer than with implant reconstruction and scars on both the breast and donor site are to be expected.

How Should a Patient Choose One Procedure or the Other?

A patient should first decide if natural reconstruction surgery is a viable option for her. Some women are not ideal candidates due to vascular (blood vessel) issues, as healthy blood vessels are necessary for the flap procedure to succeed. Once the patient decides on natural reconstruction, choosing reconstruction via the DIEP or GAP procedure depends on the health of the “donor site” from where the tissue is removed.

No woman should have to choose the best procedure for her alone – it should be an ongoing discussion with her medical professionals. At the Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, these and other issues are addressed in person within a compassionate and professional environment.

Want to know more? Call toll-free at (866) 374-2627 or visit NaturalBreastReconstruction.com.

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