Advanced microsurgical techniques make it possible to restore the natural shape and feel of a woman’s breast by transplanting her own living tissue from another part of her body. This procedure has lifelong results and is referred to as a perforator flap reconstruction, also known as free flap reconstruction. There are various types of free flap reconstruction surgeries including a DIEP flap where tissue is transplanted from the lower abdomen.
In order for a free flap to survive after it is transplanted, it must have a blood supply. This is accomplished by connecting the blood vessels in the flap to blood vessels in the chest. These blood vessels are very small, and they must be stitched together in the operating room under a microscope. Perforator flap reconstruction should only be performed by plastic surgeons who have received microsurgical fellowship training. Dr. Potter completed her microsurgical fellowship training at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Although hospitalization and recovery time is longer for flap reconstruction than for implant based reconstruction, upon leaving the hospital, you will be able to walk and gradually resume your daily activities. You will also be able to shower. It’s common to feel fatigue approximately three to six weeks after surgery, but as energy levels return, you may gradually resume physical activity, returning to your regular routine six to eight weeks after surgery.