Breast reconstructive surgery using your own tissue

December 01, 2012

Mastectomy, the removal of all or part of the breast, can be necessary in the treatment of cancer. After mastectomy, many women choose reconstructive surgery to restore the contour of the breast.  While reconstruction can be achieved using prosthetic silicone or saline implants, some women prefer a more natural alternative.

Today, breast surgeons at UC Irvine Medical Center can offer mastectomy patients a state-of-the-art surgical procedure which results in a softer breast created from their own body tissues. 

Called a microvascular muscle sparing TRAM or Deep Inferior Epigastric flap (DIEP), the procedure involves taking a portion of skin, fat, with or without a small portion of muscle from the patient’s lower abdomen and using it to reconstruct the breast. As a side benefit, the patient receives a “tummy tuck.”  Alternatively, tissue can be taken from the buttocks. To ensure sufficient circulation in the new breast, blood vessels are moved from the lower abdomen and connected to vessels in the armpit using microsurgical techniques.

A breast reconstructed with these procedures is more similar to the natural breast in softness, and in the way it drapes on the chest. Because the tissue is part of the patient's body, it does not pose the risks that can occur with synthetic implants, such as foreign-substance reactions or capsulation (breast hardening). According to UC Irvine Medical Center breast surgeons, patients receiving the new flap procedures report positive outcomes, both physically and psychologically.