Many women who have lost a breast to cancer cannot undergo common breast reconstruction procedures, such as implant-based reconstruction, because of the shape of their body or prior surgeries.
Innovative flap procedures offer breast reconstruction options to patients who are not candidates for implant-based breast reconstruction.
“We can now use parts of the body to rebuild the breast, offering reconstructive options to this group of patients,” says Dr. Matthew Carty, Co-Director of the Microsurgical Breast Reconstruction Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).
The innovative reconstructive options involve transferring tissue from one part of the body to the chest. These pieces of tissue, known as flaps, are taken from areas such as the back or inner thigh without compromising muscle functioning.
“After the surgical procedure, patients can still run, ride bikes, swim, do ballet, yoga, all the general activities that people like to do,” says Dr. Carty.
One restorative procedure involves transferring a small wedge of tissue from the backside of the thigh (PAP flap) to the chest. The flap is then shaped into a mound and connected to blood vessels using microsurgical procedures. After the area is surgically closed, only an inconspicuous scar remains in the crease of the buttock.
TUG and DUG Flaps
Another reconstructive procedure uses tissue from the inner thigh (TUG and DUG flaps). This procedure is an option for patients who might have more tissue in their inner thighs.
A new set of surgical techniques now allow surgeons to incorporate the nerve supply into flaps, known as innervated flaps. During this breast reconstruction procedure, innervated flaps are connected to nerves in the chest to restore form and sensation. “This reconstruction not only looks normal, but it feels normal, which is a huge psychological plus for many patients.”
Learn more about these breast reconstruction procedures in this video with Dr. Carty.
– Dustin G.