DIEP offers better way to reconstruct breasts

LOS ANGELES As a writer, Andrea Sarvady tackles all kinds of topics, but recently, the one most on her mind was /*breast cancer*/.

"About a month before a scheduled /*mammogram*/, I did find a lump," she said. "When I was suddenly hearing the news that I had to have a mastectomy, I was pretty surprised. I was scared, but I thought, well, I guess that's what I need to do."

Since the 80s, doctors have been rebuilding breasts using a flap of abdominal muscle and tissue, a procedure that's been refined ever since.

"The complications that we see with breast implants ... we don't have those, and as the patient ages, the breast reconstruction will age as well," said Dr. Grant Carlson of the Emory Winship Cancer Center.

Carlson told Sarvady she was a good candidate for the newest flap procedure called DIEP, which stands for Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator Flap.

Unlike traditional flap reconstructions, this more complex procedure would spare her abdominal muscles but still remove enough abdominal tissue to construct the new breast.

"The skin and the underlying fat and a blood vessel that is traversed through the muscles, but we're leaving the muscles down and carefully dissecting the blood vessels through the muscle so we don't have to sacrifice any of the muscles," Carlson said.

Sarvady said the idea of taking one part of her body to help out another part just sat right with her.

"I went under anesthesia with two breasts, and I woke up with two breasts, and that really contributed a lot to me feeling back to normal," she said.

For Sarvady, keeping her abdominal muscles meant a faster recovery. Just six weeks post-surgery, she hasn't missed a beat, writing the script for a brighter future, cancer free.

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