Breast Reconstruction – DIEP Flap/Free Flap Surgery in New Jersey

posted by William Franckle

Plastic Surgeon Dr. Franckle performs a large number of breast reconstruction surgeries. This page describes breast reconstruction with your own tissues through the method known as DIEP Flap/Free Flap Breast Reconstruction. The most suitable Breast Reconstruction method(s) for your personal situation will be presented to you during your consultation.


DIEP Flap/Free Flap Breast Reconstruction may be needed if you have loss of breast tissue and skin following mastectomy—one or both sides—or if you have loss of breast tissue only following subcutaneous mastectomy. Uncommonly, the procedure may be helpful if you have a desire for larger breasts. The goal of DIEP Flap/Free Flap Breast Reconstruction is the reconstruction of the missing breast(s) or replacement of breast tissue.

The DIEP Flap/Free Flap Breast Reconstruction Procedure

A flap of lower abdominal wall fat, muscle (and usually skin), is transferred to the area of missing breast tissue with its own blood supply. In a standard DIEP Flap/Free Flap, the blood supply is within the rectus muscle(s) which is left attached at the lower edge of the rib cage. In a Free TRAM, the blood vessels are reconnected to vessels in the axilla or chest wall. In a Turbocharged TRAM, the muscle is left attached superiorly, but the inferior vessels are connected in the axilla creating a double blood supply. The abdominal donor site is closed directly, similar to a Tummy Tuck, leaving a horizontal scar and a scar around the belly button. An attempt is made to create a “normal” breast mound and shape at the first operation, but subsequent smaller procedures are frequently necessary. Nipple/areolar reconstruction is typically performed at a later date.

Recovery from DIEP Flap/Free Flap Breast Reconstruction

A DIEP Flap/Free Flap Breast Reconstruction is a major procedure performed in the hospital and requiring at least 2–3 days of hospitalization. Ambulation will begin the day after surgery and be reasonably comfortable within 7–10 days. Complete recovery from TRAM Breast Reconstruction usually takes about 6 weeks. The abdominal donor site causes the most discomfort during healing.
Additional procedures that will enhance the result are enlargement, lifting, or reduction of the opposite breast, and nipple/areolar reconstruction. These procedures are part of the breast reconstruction and are usually covered by insurance.

Breast Reconstruction is usually covered by insurance. The specific risks and the suitability of any Breast Reconstruction Procedure for a given individual can be determined only at the time of consultation. All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Minor complications that do not affect the outcome occur occasionally. Major complications are unusual.

Call us at 856-772-6500 or contact us online for your free plastic surgery consultation.