A plastic surgery team lead by Bob Basu, MD, recently performed the first DIEP flap breast reconstruction procedure in the area at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital.
The DIEP flap is a state-of-the-art tissue-only breast reconstruction that microsurgically transplants excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen to create a soft supple breast following a mastectomy, while sparing a woman's abdominal wall muscle. The procedure is covered by insurance. Previously only available at cancer care centers in the Texas Medical Center, this reconstructive procedure is now available close to home.
The predecessor to the procedure, known as the TRAM flap, would take the excess fatty tissue and skin from the abdomen, as well as part of the abdominal wall muscle. The DIEP flap is a reconstructive surgical alternative that spares a woman's abdominal wall muscles, potentially minimizing risks for abdominal weakness or bulging. Breast cancer survivors who opt for the DIEP flap also benefit from a tummy tuck closure of their tissue donor site.
"Nothing is easy about breast cancer," said Ms. Mills of The Woodlands, a breast cancer survivor and the first patient to undergo the DIEP flap procedure at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital. "It's so nice to drive ten minutes and be home from the hospital. It's amazing they can take a breast that's been removed and now restore me back with my own tissue. It's given me back a breast of my own." Mills adds that she sees her DIEP flap as the positive side of cancer with a new soft breast and a flat washboard tummy after three kids.
The Woodlands plastic surgery team, Dr. Basu and Sugene Kim, MD, recognize the comfort and convenience of receiving care close to home. "Most people think plastic surgery is just cosmetics; that's clearly part of it," said Basu. "Our focus is breast reconstruction, working in conjunction with a patient's care team."
The Center for Advanced Breast Restoration works with many cancer care providers and community groups in North Houston, The Woodlands, Cypress, Conroe and Kingwood areas to educate women about their reconstructive options after mastectomy or breast conservation therapy (lumpectomy).
"Many women don't even realize that these reconstructive procedures are covered by their insurance and are now available close to home," said Dr. Kim. "Although we strive for the best cosmetic results, breast reconstruction is not a cosmetic self-pay procedure; it's covered by their insurance."
Dr. Basu and his surgical partner, Dr. Kim, offer both autologous (tissue-only) and implant-based reconstruction based on the individual patient's medical situation.