Dr. Jordan Jacobs specializes in breast reconstruction surgery that uses microsurgical techniques to transfer a large section of a woman’s own tissue from part of her body to create new breasts after mastectomy. Most commonly, this tissue is taken from the belly, although other areas that tissue can be taken from include the buttock or thigh. Women typically choose this type of breast reconstruction if they are not candidates for implant reconstruction, want to simply avoid the use of an implant, or have extra tissue in one of the areas mentioned that they wouldn’t mind getting rid of while having breast reconstruction.
What is the Autologous Tissue Flap?
What Are The Advantages Of New York Autologous Tissue Flap Breast Reconstruction Procedures?
The main advantage of autologous tissue flap breast reconstruction is that you will end up with breasts that look and feel very much like natural breasts. Also, you will have fat removed from your stomach much like a tummy tuck! A significant advantage of a DIEP flap procedure in particular is that it doesn’t affect your stomach muscles, and therefore they will not be weakened.
A tissue transfer reconstruction gives you soft, natural breasts and thus they tend to be more ptotic, or drooping, than implant reconstruction breasts. The surgery itself is more involved and therefore longer (about 8 – 10 hours) and recovery will take longer as well (typically 4 – 6 weeks). Also, there will be a scar where the donor tissue was removed.
A woman with some amount of fat that can be taken from her abdominal area (or thigh or buttock) — enough to create the desired breast size — is typically eligible for a tissue transfer procedure. It’s also important that the blood vessels to be transferred from the donor to recipient site be in good shape and not constricted, or narrow. Women who smoke may have constricted blood vessels, so it’s important to stop smoking if you are considering autologous tissue flap breast reconstruction.
What Is Inloved in an Autologous Tissue Flap Breast Reconstruction?
Autologous tissue flap breast reconstruction taken from the belly is also commonly known as “free tissue transfer,” or medically termed TRAM or DIEP flap surgery. With this form of breast reconstruction, we replace the volume of your breasts immediately, in the same surgery in which your mastectomy is performed, using the fatty tissue from your belly.
The first step in the flap procedure is to surgically lift the area of skin, fat, and blood vessels from below your belly button — this is referred to as the “donor” tissue. We bring, or transfer, the donor tissue into your breasts to fill up the skin envelope left behind after all breast tissue is removed during the mastectomy. The breast envelope is referred to as the “recipient” site. In order for the donor tissue to survive in its new recipient location, a microscope and precision instruments are used to reattach the donated blood vessels to blood vessels in the recipient site.
The variation in the way this procedure is termed medically comes from the technicalities of how it is actually performed:
- Pedicled TRAM (Transverse Rectus Abdominis Myocutaneous Flap) transfers belly tissue but involves taking the abdominal muscle (rectus muscle) along with the fat to provide the blood supply. There is no microsurgery used in this technique since the fat and muscle is tunneled directly into the breast pocket.
- FREE TRAM Flap technique involves transferring the fatty tissue into the breast pocket with a very small piece of muscle to ensure good blood supply to the fatty tissue. Microsurgery is used in this procedure.
- DIEP (Deep inferior epigastric perforator) Flap transfers belly tissue as well, but no muscle is used. Only the blood vessels are taken with the fat, and microsurgery is used to reconnect the donor vessels to the recipient site.
The tissue used in autologous flap surgery can be taken from other areas besides the abdomen including the back, buttock and thigh. Similar techniques described above are used to transfer the donor tissue to the breast pocket.
LET’S GET STARTED
Would you like to learn more about New York Autologous Tissue Flap Breast Reconstruction? Request your consultation online, or give us a call at 888-461-4852 (New York City) or 914-366-6139 (Tarrytown). At the New York Group for Plastic Surgery, we serve patients in the entire Hudson River Valley, Northern New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania and Western Connecticut.