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Cosmetic DIEP Flap Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation has long been the most popular cosmetic surgery procedure, but some patients forego this procedure because saline or silicone breast implants are not ideal for them1. At My Houston Surgeons, Dr. Sean Boutos has pioneered a novel type of breast augmentation procedure that results in full, voluptuous breasts without implants: Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) flap breast augmentation.

Previously only performed as a reconstructive procedure, DIEP flap transplants living tissue from the abdomen to the breast.  When used for cosmetic patients, the DIEP flap breast augmentation reshapes the breasts using tissue and fat from the abdomen. This results in fuller breasts that look and feel natural as well as a tighter and flatter stomach. Unlike breast augmentation with autologous fat grafting, which can result in resorption, DIEP flap breast augmentation results in superior cosmetic results that last forever because the breasts are augmented with living tissue.

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Lasting, Natural Breast Augmentation Without Implants

When most women think of “natural breast augmentation,” they think of fat grafting. In this procedure, also known as fat transfer, fat is harvested from the woman’s own body and injected into the breasts to create a fuller shape. Fat grafting breast augmentation can produce impressive results, but over time most of the grafted fat is reabsorbed by the body and grafted breasts lose volume. Additionally, there is a limit to how much breast volume can be added with grafted fat.

With the DIEP flap procedure, Dr. Boutros is able to help women achieve the breasts they desire with lasting results. Additionally, many of our patients prefer this breast augmentation procedure because it allows them to enjoy fuller breasts without concerns about the safety, appearance, or feel of breast implants.

Cosmetic DIEP as a Solution for Capsular Contraction

Capsular contracture is an unfortunate complication of breast augmentation with implants, resulting from a hardening of the tissue around breast implants. When this happens, the breasts look and feel increasingly unnatural. Some women with capsular contracture choose to undergo breast revision surgery with new implants, but the truth is that capsular contracture can recur even with the latest implants. For patients with capsular contracture, the ideal solution is DIEP flap breast augmentation, which provides 100% resolution of the condition, prevention of future contraction, and the breast size and shape they desire.

Breast Augmentation Without the Risks of Implants

In recent years, a number of concerns have arisen about serious health concerns that may be associated with the use of breast implants.

The FDA has recalled multiple types of breast implants as part of an investigation begun in 2011 into a potential link between textured breast implants and a type of cancer called Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). This is a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, not breast cancer, and typically responds very well to treatment. Still, any form of cancer is potentially life-threatening, and BIA-ALCL understandably causes concern for women seeking breast augmentation with implants. Because of this, some women prefer not to undergo augmentation with implants, or seek to remove their existing implants out of an abundance of caution.2

Another potentially serious health concern associated with the use of breast implants is Breast Implant Illness (BII), an autoimmune condition. BII is associated with all types of breast implants and may cause respiratory problems, brain fog, gastrointestinal issues, muscle aches, hair loss, joint pain, anxiety, and fatigue. There is still debate in the medical community about the causes and treatments for BII, but according to the FDA, breast implant removal does reverse the symptoms of this condition.3

Benefits of Cosmetic DIEP Flap

  • Larger, fuller breasts
  • Avoid potential health concerns linked to breast implants
  • 100% solution for patients with capsular contracture
  • Longer-lasting and more effective augmentation than fat grafting
  • Also results in a firmer, flatter abdomen
  • Procedure has been well-established in use for breast reconstruction following mastectomy

Before & After

diep flap augmentation before and after

DIEP Flap Breast Augmentation: What to Expect

Preparing for the Procedure 

The first step in preparing for DIEP flap breast augmentation is to attend a consultation with one of a few plastic surgeons experienced in the use of this procedure for augmentation. Whether you meet with one of My Houston Surgeons by phone, by video, or in person, he or she will thoroughly explain the procedure, the projected results you will see, and whether this form of breast augmentation is ideal to help you meet your goals. Once your procedure is scheduled, you will receive detailed instructions on what you can expect before, during, and after your DIEP flap breast augmentation.

The Cosmetic DIEP Flap Procedure 

This procedure is performed at our DIEP flap center, which is specially-designed for this type of surgery. First, the surgeon will remove skin, tissue, and fat from your lower abdomen, following with liposuction to help you achieve ideal abdominal contours. Your abdominal muscles may also be tightened at this time to eliminate the appearance of diastasis recti, or the separation of the abdominal muscles.

The harvested tissue will be transplanted to your breasts, and your surgeon will meticulously perform microvascular grafting to ensure a successful transplant.

Recovery after DIEP Flap Augmentation 

In the past, DIEP flap breast reconstruction was associated with a long recovery period. However, the experts at My Houston Surgeons have pioneered surgical techniques that dramatically reduce recovery time and discomfort, thanks in part to the necessity for much smaller incisions in the abdomen.

Following DIEP flap breast augmentation, you can expect to spend at least one night in our DIEP flap center before you are discharged to continue your recovery at home or a hotel. Most of our patients are able to return to 80% of their normal activities within two weeks of this procedure and can engage in even more activities the following week. You should be fully back to your routine within four to six weeks of the procedure.

Cosmetic DIEP Flap Breast Augmentation Results

When compared to breast augmentation with implants, DIEP flap breast augmentation leads to breasts that are fuller and perkier, but still look natural. Additionally, patients who undergo this procedure enjoy a flatter, trimmer, more shapely abdomen.

DIEP Flap vs Breast Augmentation with Fat Transfer

Traditionally, breast augmentation with fat transfer has been the procedure of choice for women who desire fuller breasts without silicone or saline implants. While effective, fat transfer breast augmentation provides results that are much more subtle than what our surgeons can achieve with DIEP flap augmentation. Additionally, over time, between 60% and 90% of grafted fat will be reabsorbed into the body, diminishing the fullness of breasts. With cosmetic DIEP flap breast augmentation, the surgeon transplants living tissues and blood vessels from the patient’s own body into the breasts, where the tissue becomes a soft, supple, and permanent part of the body in its new location.4

Who is a Candidate for DIEP Flap Augmentation?

If you desire fuller, more voluptuous breasts but would like to avoid capsular contracture and other issues potentially associated with breast implants, cosmetic DIEP flap breast augmentation may be ideal for you. In general, candidates for this procedure are in good overall health and have not previously undergone a tummy tuck. The best way to determine whether you are a candidate is to attend a private consultation with one of our experienced plastic surgeons.

Contact My Houston Surgeons for Natural Breast Augmentation

Are you interested in learning more about natural, long-lasting breast augmentation without implants? We invite you to contact My Houston Surgeons for more information and to schedule your personal consultation.

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References
1 American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 2020 National Plastic Surgery Statistics Report. Available: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/documents/News/Statistics/2020/plastic-surgery-statistics-report-2020.pdf. Accessed June 1, 2021.
2 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Questions and answers about breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). Available: https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/breast-implants/questions-and-answers-about-breast-implant-associated-anaplastic-large-cell-lymphoma-bia-alcl. Accessed June 1, 2021.
3 Martinez CA, Reis SM, Rednam R, Boutros SG. The Outpatient DIEP: Safety and Viability following a Modified Recovery Protocol. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2018 Sep 14;6(9):e1898. doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000001898. PMID: 30349784; PMCID: PMC6191230. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30349784/. Accessed June 1, 2021.
4 Delay E. Lipomodeling of the reconstructed breast. Surgery of the breast: principles and art. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006. p.912-33.

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