The skin and fat from the lower abdomen can be used to reconstruct the breast following mastectomy. This type of reconstruction is called autologous breast reconstruction or flap reconstruction. The deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap uses the skin and fat from the lower abdomen, and maintains a significant amount of abdominal wall musculature. The tissue that is transferred from the abdomen can be used to replace skin and breast tissue removed during the mastectomy or replace the breast tissue only keeping the native breast skin. When the breast is ptotic prior to the mastectomy or if tumors are in close proximity to the nipple areola complex, the nipple needs to be removed during the mastectomy.
The contralateral breast, can be reduced and lifted at the time of the mastectomy. This portion of the procedure is often performed for symmetry and/or risk reduction.
When the abdominal wall tissue is removed and transferred to the breast, the abdominal wall contour improves following DIEP flap reconstruction, which is often an added secondary benefit of the reconstruction.