DIEP flaps are commonly used to reconstruct the breast following mastectomy in the setting of radiation.
After a mastectomy and radiation, the skin that has been radiated, will not expand appropriately to accept an implant. Often the tissue has been damaged from the radiation and needs to be excised to appropriately reconstruct the breast.
Autologous tissue reconstruction is the reconstruction of a breast with the patient’s own body tissue. Traditionally, the lower abdomen contains skin and fat that can be used to reconstruct the breasts. During DIEP flap surgery, the skin and fat from the lower abdomen is harvested and the blood supply is connected to a blood vessel in the chest or in the axillae.