The SIEA flap procedure is a breast reconstruction technique that uses the lower abdominal skin and fatty tissue to reconstruct a natural, soft breast after a mastectomy. The SIEA flap technique is very similar to that of the DIEP flap procedure. The SIEA flap differs from the DIEP flap in that a different artery is used to supply blood flow to the new breast. The SIEA blood vessels are found in the fatty tissue right below skin, but the DIEP blood vessels run below and within the abdominal muscle (a more technically challenging surgery). While the surgical preparation is slightly different, both procedures spare the abdominal muscle and only use the patient’s skin and fat to reconstruct the breast.
An added benefit to the SIEA flap is that patients receive an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) at the same time. Sensory nerve reconstruction can also be performed in most patients, which can significantly improve long-term sensation in the reconstructed breast.
When the breast is reconstructed entirely with your own tissue, the results are normally much more natural and there are no concerns about getting implants. The biggest benefit of the SIEA flap procedure is that there is no need to follow the blood vessels going through your abdominal muscles. This means the abdominal muscles are undisturbed, so there is minimal risk weakness in the abdominal wall. The SIEA flap technique also takes less time to complete than the DIEP flap.
SIEA flap surgery will require a hospital stay of three or four days. Patients will be able to begin eating on the first day after surgery, and they will be able to get out of bed with assistance on the second day. Patients will be able to walk with minimal assistance on the day of discharge, and while at home, be able to perform all necessary activities of daily life. Also following surgery, three to four surgical drains will be used, depending on whether one or two breasts are reconstructed. In most circumstances, these drains will remain in for one to two weeks. If they are highly productive, they will stay in longer. The recovery time for SIEA flap reconstruction is four to six weeks to resume most normal activities. Patients will be sore for about a week or two and then begin to improve daily.
To learn most about SIEA flap and DIEP flap breast reconstruction procedures, please contact us to schedule a consultation today.