While using abdominal tissue for breast reconstruction can be a great option, it is sometimes not feasible. For very slender women, for example, it may not be possible to take enough tissue from the abdomen to create natural-looking breasts using her own tissue. When this is the case, a latissimus dorsi reconstruction (Lat) flap may be chosen as the best alternative option.
The Lat flap, which takes tissue from the woman’s back, may be used alone or in combination with a breast implant for a larger reconstruction. It is usually possible to spare a large section of latissimus dorsi muscle when performing this flap.
Our surgeons have the specialized training to perform Lat flap reconstruction, muscle sparing latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction (MS Lat flap) and the more complicated thoracodorsal artery perforator flap (TAP Flap). The TAP flap transfers a smaller segment of skin and fat from the back without taking any muscle. This flap is ideal for correction of small defects caused by previous lumpectomy and radiation.
Contact us online today to learn more about your options for breast reconstruction. The Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery of Central Texas helps men and women from Austin, Round Rock and throughout Texas.
Benefits of LAT Flap, MS Lat Flap and TAP Flap Reconstruction
There are a number of benefits to using the Lat or TAP flaps for reconstructive surgery of the breast. The Lat and MS Lat procedures are ideal for those who require reconstruction using their own tissue, whether for personal or medical reasons, but are not candidates for DIEP flap reconstruction. The TAP flap is ideal for correction of small contour defects of the breast after lumpectomy and radiation without having to sacrifice any muscle and with significantly less recovery time than a DIEP flap.
Adding a layer of fat and/or muscle over a breast implant offers more natural-looking results compared to an implant alone and decreases the occurrence of complications associated with radiation therapy. This is especially true for women who have thin skin that won’t cover an implant very well. This type of reconstruction can also be used for women who need surgery after a lumpectomy to improve the shape of the breast(s).
Understanding the LAT Flap, MS Lat Flap and TAP Procedures
The latissimus dorsi muscle is located on the upper back. During surgery, the skin and a portion of muscle are moved from the upper back to the breast area. Usually, it is possible to spare a portion of the latissimus muscle and perform a muscle sparing latissimus dorsi myocutaneous flap. Next, this tissue is reshaped into a new breast. The blood supply is preserved during the procedure, which allows the blood vessels to be rerouted through the underarm area.
This reconstructive surgery is most commonly performed in combination with breast implants for more breast volume. However, in slender women with naturally smaller breasts, the flap alone can create positive results.
The TAP flap is performed by dissecting a blood vessel from the surrounding muscle and transferring the area of skin and fat that the vessel supplies to the breast. This procedure can also be performed as a free flap using microsurgical techniques. Our surgeons will discuss these options with you during your consultation regarding breast reconstruction.
Recovery and Results
Since the Lat and MS Lat flap procedures remove some upper back muscle, most women experience some weakness during recovery. This should not be noticeable after healing. Women who participate in extreme sports like rock climbing or competitive swimming should discuss concerns with their doctors.
You will notice a change in the appearance of your breasts right away. As the healing process continues, your final results reveal themselves. Although it’s important to maintain realistic expectations, flap reconstruction from The Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery of Central Texas can provide beautiful, natural results following breast cancer treatment.