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Breast Reconstruction with Flap Procedures

A flap procedure uses your own tissue to form the shape of a breast. Two common types of flap procedures are 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.

Cutaway view of the breasts and abdomen showing mastectomy scar, rectus muscle, incision and skin flap. Then the image showing the skin flap and new scars.
TRAM flap

Cutaway view of a side view showing the mastectomy scar, latissimus dorsi muscle, incision and skin flap.
LD flap

 

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.

Risks of flap reconstruction

  • Infection

  • Muscle weakness

  • Scar tissue

  • Increased complications in smokers

Note to smokers

Refrain from smoking 3 to 4 weeks before and 1 to 2 weeks after your procedure. Smoking can interfere with the healing process.

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Song, David H, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Wetter, L Albert, MD
Last Review Date: 12/28/2011
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