Breast cancer survivors often face uncertainty about the future after conquering the disease. For those who have undergone or are considering mastectomy, reclaiming their body becomes a priority. Breast reconstruction offers hope, and one method gaining popularity is autologous tissue transfer, specifically the DIEP flap technique. Plastic surgeons Mary Lester, MD, and Rozbeh Torabi, MD, shed light on the benefits of this procedure and how it empowers breast cancer survivors.
The DIEP flap involves using tissues from the patient’s own body, typically from the abdomen, to reconstruct the breast. This tissue is often the same tissue that is removed during an abdominoplasty. The procedure can be done at the time of mastectomy or later. The transferred tissue is connected to the chest’s blood vessels through anastomosis. Other autologous tissue transfer methods use tissues from the inner thigh or shoulder, depending on the patient’s body type and health conditions.
Autologous tissue transfer can be life-changing for breast cancer survivors. Its primary goal is to help patients regain confidence and move forward from their cancer experience. Plastic surgeons work closely with patients to understand their desires and customize the reconstruction accordingly. This procedure allows women to feel comfortable in their bodies and focus on the future, without constant reminders of their past. However, sometimes reconstruction may need to be delayed until after additional cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Empathy and empowerment are essential when working with breast cancer survivors. Plastic surgeons understand the emotional impact of the disease and the importance of the surgeon-patient relationship in achieving the desired outcome of the DIEP flap or autologous tissue transfer. While the procedure itself can be emotionally rewarding for the surgeon, it is also bittersweet as patients eventually move on with their lives once they no longer require further treatment. Plastic surgeons have the privilege of helping patients overcome the physical and emotional obstacles of breast cancer, allowing them to reclaim their bodies and move forward.
Breast cancer survivors have a range of options for breast reconstruction, and plastic surgeons play a crucial role in guiding them through the process. Plastic surgeons are grateful for the opportunity to improve patients’ lives through surgical techniques. Their goal is to help patients overcome the trauma of cancer and embrace a future free from constant reminders. With the right guidance and support, breast cancer survivors can make informed decisions about their reconstructive options and take the next step towards healing and recovery.