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Breast Reconstruction with Flap Procedures

A flap procedure uses your own tissue to form the shape of a breast. There are two kinds of flap procedures: the TRAM flap and the LD flap.

Your surgeon can help you decide whether to have reconstructive surgery. You will be advised to wait if now is not the best time for you.

Outline of woman's torso showing rectus muscle in abdomen. Mastectomy scar is on chest. Dotted line shows incision circling lower belly to create skin flap. Inset of woman's torso showing skin flap brought up to reconstruct breast. New scars are around reconstructed breast and on lower abdomen.

Outline of woman from back with right arm raised. Mastectomy scar is on chest. Latissimus dorsi muscle is visible under skin of back and side. Oval skin flap is on top of muscle on side of body. Inset of woman's torso showing breast reconstructed with muscle. New scars are around reconstructed breast and on side of body.

 

TRAM flap

The TRAM (transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous) flap uses abdominal muscle, fat, and skin. The new breast feels soft to the touch. A flap of skin and fat is removed from the lower part of the abdomen. Then the flap is tunneled under the skin from the abdomen to the mastectomy site. There the flap is formed into the shape of a breast.

LD flap

The LD (latissimus dorsi) flap uses back muscle, fat, and skin. The new breast feels soft to the touch. The flap of skin and fat is removed from the side of the body, over the ribs. The latissimus dorsi muscle is left attached to the flap. Then the flap is tunneled under the skin to the mastectomy site. There it is formed into the shape of a breast. Often, an immediate implant can be inserted beneath the latissimus flap.

Risks of flap reconstruction

  • Increased complications in smokers

  • Infection

  • Muscle weakness

  • Scar tissue

 

Note to smokers

Try not to smoke 3–4 weeks before and 1–2 weeks after your procedure. Smoking can interfere with the healing process.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 6/1/2017
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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