The deep inferior epigastric perforator flap for breast reconstruction in overweight and obese patients

Patrick B. Garvey, Edward W. Buchel, Barbara A. Pockaj, Richard J. Gray, Thomas D. Samson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


The authors retrospectively reviewed the computerized records of 71 women undergoing 80 deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap reconstructions after mastectomy over a 1-year period. There were 33 normal, 26 overweight, and 12 obese patients. No statistically significant difference in flap complications was found between groups. Overall fat necrosis rates were 11.4 percent for the normal-weight patients, 6.7 percent for the overweight patients, and 6.7 percent for the obese patients. Postoperative hospital time was similar for all groups. The occurrence of abdominal wall fascial laxity was uncommon and similar for all groups. Large (>900 g) reconstructions were completed without prohibitive complications in the reconstruction flap. The DIEP flap represents a significant advance in autologous breast tissue reconstruction. Although concerns regarding fat necrosis rates in DIEP flaps have been voiced, the authors did not see an increasing rate of fat necrosis in their overweight and obese patients, and their overall rate of fat necrosis is comparable to rates reported for free transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flaps. Also, increasing body mass index did not seem to affect the rate of delayed complications of the abdominal wall, such as abdominal wall hernia or bulging. Although it was not statistically significant, the authors did observe a trend toward increased wound-healing complications with increasing body mass index. Their data also support the claim that the complete sparing of the rectus abdominis muscles afforded by the DIEP flap avoids abdominal wall fascial bulging or defects often seen in obese TRAM reconstruction patients. Because flap and wound complication rates are similar or superior to those of other autologous tissue reconstruction techniques and the occurrence of abdominal wall defects is all but eliminated, the DIEP flap likely represents the preferred autologous breast reconstruction technique for overweight and obese patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-457
Number of pages11
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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