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DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap surgery


Flap procedures use your own tissue to form the shape of a breast. The DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforators) flap uses fat, skin and blood vessels from your lower abdomen to rebuild your breast. Surgeons can also transfer a sensory nerve from the lower abdomen with the flap to restore sensation in the breast. When the flap is connected to the chest to reconstruct the new breast, nerves may be reconnected for restoration of some of the sensation lost with mastectomy. DIEP flap, compared to the TRAM flap procedure, may allow for a shorter recovery time since no muscles are used. The procedure may also reduce the risk of losing muscle strength.

DIEP Flap Consultation Request

To determine if you are an ideal candidate for Deep Inferior...

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Why Choose DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction at Vanderbilt

  • Knowledge and experience

    Our Vanderbilt plastic surgeons bring years of surgical expertise to offer a personalized experience for our DIEP flap reconstruction patients. We are the only high-volume surgical center in Tennessee and the surrounding region for this type of breast reconstruction. This extensive experience provides better results for our patients after surgery.

  • Collaborative care

    At Vanderbilt, two experienced, board-certified microvascular plastic surgeons work together to perform your surgery. This allows one surgeon to focus on the donor site (your abdomen) while the other operates on the breast. This high level of collaboration improves patient safety and lowers the risk of complications.

  • Faster recovery, fewer complications

    Our Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocol allows our surgeons to reconstruct one or both breasts during one operation. This specialized care can shorten your hospital stay, reduce the need for narcotic pain medicine and minimize complications after surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions about DIEP Flap Surgery

  • Which patients are eligible for the DIEP flap procedure?

    The DIEP flap procedure is available to appropriately selected patients. Those who may not be eligible for the procedure include:

    • Thin women who do not have enough extra belly tissue.
    • Women who have had certain abdominal surgeries or significant coexisting medical conditions.
    • Women whose abdominal blood vessels are small or not in the best location to perform a DIEP flap.
  • How long after a mastectomy is DIEP flap reconstruction scheduled?

    The DIEP flap procedure can be performed several weeks or months after mastectomy—or even immediately, in same operation as the mastectomy. A “staged” DIEP flap can be performed in phases over time. This is a good option for women who might need post-mastectomy radiation therapy.

  • What are the benefits of DIEP flap surgery?

    DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery offers a high level of patient satisfaction, with less pain and downtime compared to conventional TRAM flap reconstructions:

    • Only the patient’s skin and fat are used. There is minimal muscle involvement.
    • Because an implant is not needed, a reconstructed breast is permanent and more natural feeling—warm and soft to the touch.
    • Patients may regain sensation to the new breast in a shorter amount of time.
    • DIEP patients do not experience increasing breast hardening (capsular contracture) or implant ruptures over time, and they rarely need additional surgery once the reconstructive process is complete.


Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks
719 Thompson Lane, Suite 25000
Nashville, TN 37204