In the journal Cancer, a study of 51 women shows “rapid psychological recovery” after TRAM Flap or DIEP flap breast reconstruction after mastectomy. Patients reported marked improvements in psychological, social and sexual well-being.
However, both procedures source the grafted tissue from the patient’s abdomen, so lingering abdominal weakness was often reported 3 months after the surgery. This came as a surprise to the authors, since they expected the side effects to subside after about 8 weeks.
“Maybe there are things we can do before surgery to optimize these patients’ conditions,” suggests the study’s author Dr. Toni Zhong to The Canadian Press. “For example, maybe it’s a good idea for us to have a devoted physiotherapist who can focus on doing abdominal strength training before surgery.”
Despite side effects, the patients were generally satisfied with the results of their TRAM or DIEP flap breast reconstruction. “The overwhelming answer was these patients did not regret it and were highly satisfied,” said author Dr. Toni Zhong at the University of Toronto.
Each breast reconstruction procedure has pros and cons to consider. Implants are a popular choice, but do not use natural tissue and often require a future revision procedure. While TRAM and DIEP both use the abdomen as a tissue source, the DIEP procedure spares the abdominal muscle tissue.
When choosing the best technique for your breast reconstruction, seek out a board certified plastic surgeon who is knowledgeable about all techniques.
Read more about breast reconstruction in the Portland area