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Medical Center of Central Georgia Offering New Breast Reconstruction Procedure

Medical Center of Central Georgia Offering New Breast Reconstruction Procedure

DIEP Flap offered as a new option for cancer patients 

MACON, GA (Wednesday, January 2, 2013) – The Medical Center of Central Georgia (MCCG) is pleased to announce the addition of the Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator Flap (DIEP Flap) procedure, a post-mastectomy breast reconstruction procedure for cancer patients.

The DIEP Flap procedure transfers tissue located in the lower abdomen to the breast area. Although surgeons have performed similar TRAM Flaps at MCCG for some time, the DIEP Flap procedure does not cut the muscle of the abdominal wall. Only fatty tissue is removed to reconstruct the breast. Dr. Joshua Groves became the first surgeon in Central Georgia to perform the DIEP Flap procedure on June 28, 2012.

“The TRAM Flap takes the muscle and the blood vessels, but DIEP Flap is different. With DIEP Flap, it's just skin and fat, no muscle. The patient still has function of their abdominal wall, and that's really the big plus,” said Dr. Groves. “This is autologous reconstruction – using the patient's own tissue. You can't get any more natural than your own tissue. If the patient is okay with this kind of reconstruction, the more natural feel of their own tissue, then this is what we recommend.”

Kathleen Myrick became MCCG's first DIEP Flap patient this past June. While having a mammogram 11 years ago, Myrick learned she had cancer in her right breast. Another routine mammogram last year revealed cancer in her left breast. After deciding to have a double mastectomy, Myrick discussed several reconstruction options with Dr. Groves. Together, they decided on DIEP Flap, and almost four months after surgery, Myrick is pleased with her choice.

“I thought it would bother me, but the very first time I looked at myself, it didn't bother me at all. I see the exact same thing I saw all my life. I don't feel like anything was wrong, and I think part of the reason is that everything is still all my own – my own flesh, my own tissue. I think it makes a difference in how you feel,” said Myrick.

The initial operation, the transfer of tissue from the abdomen to the chest, requires a hospital stay of approximately five days. After recovery, patients may opt to have follow-up, outpatient procedures to create a more natural look for the reconstructed area. Dr. Groves and surgeons at MCCG may do one to two follow up procedures to contour and shape the new breast.

“The biggest surgery by far is the first one, but once the patient recovers from that, we can do some shaping, create a new nipple, do some tattooing and fine tuning. It really depends on the patient and how far they want to go,” said Dr. Groves.

The DIEP Flap procedure may be performed after or during a mastectomy. According to Dr. Groves, the best candidates for DIEP Flap are those who have had or will have a mastectomy, received radiation, and have enough tissue for the transfer from waist to chest. He emphasizes that DIEP Flap may be an option for patients who are not happy with previous breast reconstructions.

“If you've had reconstruction and you're not happy with it, you might be a candidate for this. There are other options. You're not just stuck,” said Dr. Groves.

Pleased with her results, Myrick has recommended DIEP Flap to others currently battling breast cancer.

“I think women need to know this is an option. In my thinking, it's the best case option for most people,” said Myrick.