DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery

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DIEP flap surgery is the most common type of autologous breast reconstruction (reconstruction using your own tissue). For this procedure, tissue from your abdomen is used to sculpt a new breast.

Your plastic surgeon will make an incision across your lower abdomen, then move a flap of tissue (with blood vessels attached) up to the chest. The surgeon creates a new breast by sculpting this tissue and connecting the flap’s blood vessels to blood vessels in the chest.

Advantages

DIEP flap surgery offers a few advantages over some other types of reconstruction, including a flatter, tighter belly and an easily hidden scar near the bikini line.

In addition, the reconstructed breast:

  • Looks natural
  • Ages naturally
  • Adjusts to weight gain and loss
Things to Consider

Not everyone is a candidate for this surgery. These are some of the factors that could prevent you from getting DIEP flap reconstruction:

  • Some medical co-morbidities where a longer surgery is not safe
  • History of clotting disorders
  • Active smoking
  • History of certain types abdominal surgery. (Having a c-section in the past is not a problem.)

Who Should Get DIEP Flap Surgery?

DIEP Flap is best for people who:

  • Have excess abdominal tissue that can be used to make an adequate size breast
  • Do not want a foreign body in them (an implant)
  • Want to avoid lifelong imaging for implant surveillance   
  • Are willing to accept a longer initial recovery
I wanted breasts that naturally moved with me, went up and down with my weight, and that felt warm and soft. I knew that DIEP flap surgery wasn't meant to be a makeover. It was meant to reconstruct my breasts.
Jill Rafkin age 49, bilateral mastectomy, DIEP flap surgery, and nipple reconstruction

What to expect with DIEP Flap Reconstruction

In general, the timeline for surgery and recovery is similar among all types of autologous breast reconstruction.

DIEP flap reconstruction

  • Hospital Stay 2 to 3 Days
  • Recovery 4 to 6 Weeks

Nipple Reconstruction

  • Hospital Stay: None (outpatient)
  • Recovery: Minimal

FAQs: Preparing for Surgery

Tips and advice to prepare for all types of reconstruction surgery – like what to expect the day of surgery, what to bring, and how to prepare.

Learn more

FAQs: Life After Surgery

More information and resources about life after reconstruction surgery – like what to expect and how to prepare for life after surgery.

Learn more

Get the Support you need at MSK

MSK offers compassionate care from a team of experts offering the latest breast reconstruction techniques. We’re here for you every step of the way, before, during, and after surgery.

Financial Services at MSK
Managing the cost of your cancer treatment can be stressful and difficult. To speak with someone about your options, contact your Patient Access Coordinator (PAC).

Support & Helpful Resources
Your mental health is important, too. We offer many resources to help you through the emotional aspects of breast reconstruction.

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