With thousands of women receiving the news of a breast cancer diagnosis, the decision to proceed with breast reconstructive surgery is often not an initial thought of concern. However, when planning a life care plan for a breast cancer patient, the discussions regarding breast reconstructive surgery, including the type of reconstruction, should be discussed, to some degree, with the breast surgeon as well as with a plastic surgeon. Of the dynamics involved in Breast Reconstruction Surgery, one such aspect of this surgery has become increasingly popular among breast cancer patients. It is a surgical procedure known as DIEP, Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator. As a breast cancer patient, understanding the aspects involved with DIEP will aide in providing a more effective decision when establishing a life care plan in the fight against breast cancer.
When diagnosed with breast cancer, the selection of a breast surgeon is commonly the primarily focus of the breast cancer patient. However, when considering the comprehensive treatment plan, consideration should also be made, and consultation should take place with, a plastic surgeon to discuss the options for breast reconstructive surgery, especially in the case of mastectomy. DIEP is part of the breast reconstructive surgery discussions which may provide for insight into the latest improvements in surgical repair for breast cancer patients. Because many plastic surgeons are not well educated in the DIEP procedure, or may not accept low offers of insurance reimbursements, the breast reconstruction surgery options should be discussed at the onset of the breast cancer diagnosis so as to prepare the breast cancer patient for the anticipated outcome. So, what is DIEP and how does DIEP differ from other breast reconstructions?
DIEP, also known as Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator is a reconstructive breast surgery process which is becoming more widely popular among breast cancer patients. Following mastectomy, breast cancer patients commonly seek out breast reconstructive surgery using self donated tissue. In years past, this donor site was, as a general rule, taken from the upper back area of the breast cancer patient. With the advanced medical research, the DIEP reconstructive procedure no longer requires incision in the upper part of the body which has already undergone significant trauma.
As a flap reconstruction, DIEP is procedure in which donor tissue is obtained from the breast cancer survivor’s abdominal area. While no muscle tissue is used, the breast cancer patient’s own fat, skin and blood vessels are take from the abdomen and used as a flap to create breast tissue for women who have undergone mastectomy. With proper surgery during mastectomy, followed by DIEP flap reconstruction, a woman can achieve the most optimal outcome in terms of breast reconstruction following breast cancer treatment. The key to this optimal outcome likes in the collaboration of the breast surgeon to perform a mastectomy in which the outer skin of the breast are is left intact while the underlying tissue is removed. Once done, the plastic surgeon can then, several months later, perform the DIEP flap reconstruction, inserting the abdominal fat and tissue into this breast skin flap resulting in a more natural appearance to the breast area.
There are many advantages to considering DIEP flap reconstruction surgery versus a surgery which involves self donated tissue from another area. While hospital admission for the DIEP may be as long as three days, the breast cancer survivor can, generally, return to almost normal activities of daily living, in terms of abdominal activities, within just a few weeks of surgery as muscle tissue within the abdominal area is not affected with a DIEP surgery.
As a disadvantage to DIEP surgery, many health insurance companies have indicated the surgical procedure is not reimbursable at the rate of other tissue donor or flap revision surgeries. For this reason, locating a plastic surgeon, with experience in DIEP surgery, willing to accept insurance reimbursements payments, may be a challenge. However, as most breast cancer survivors know, persistence pays.
The key to optimal health outcomes, when fighting breast cancer lies, partly, in the perseverance and education of the breast cancer patient. Understanding, fully, the options available, breast cancer patients can express not only desires associated with treatment but can also seek out and obtain the most recent and advanced surgical and medical treatments available in the fight against breast cancer.