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The DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap uses a woman’s lower abdominal fat to reconstruct the breast. Any “flap” reconstruction requires the harvested fat to be transplanted with a blood supply source, called the vascular pedicle. In a DIEP flap breast reconstruction, the vascular pedicle runs from the abdominal fat deeper into the pelvis through the rectus abdominus (“six-pack”) muscle and its fascia.

In a traditional DIEP flap breast reconstruction, the vascular pedicle is accessed by opening the fascia and muscle, like one unzips a jacket.  This disruption is ultimately sutured back together. 

In a robotic DIEP flap breast reconstruction, the fascial and muscle opening is minimized. Instead of unzipping the fascia and muscle, the vascular pedicle is retrieved intra-abdominally with robotic assistance.  By minimizing the disruption of the fascia and muscle, there is less risk of hernia, abdominal wall weakening and pain. 

Who Is a Good Candidate

Not all women are candidates for robotic DIEP flap breast reconstruction. Women who have not received previous abdominal surgeries are likely better candidates to receive this type of breast reconstruction. Additionally, prior to surgery, patients will receive preoperative imaging (a MRI scan) to assess their vascular anatomy and confirm that they are candidates for robotic DIEP flap breast reconstruction.

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