Autologous (tissue flap) breast reconstruction is a fancy term that means using your own tissue to rebuild breasts after mastectomy. Fat and skin (and sometimes muscle, depending on the surgical technique and surgeon’s skill) can be taken from just about anywhere you have too much of it.
The abdomen (DIEP and TRAM procedures) is the most common source for autologous breast reconstruction, because that’s where many women have excess fat that they would love to see minimized or disappear altogether. Other fat sources for breast reconstruction include the upper or lower buttocks, and the inner thighs, another area where we women tend to collect deposits of hard-to-get-rid-of fat.
If you’re interested in autologous breast reconstruction but you’re blessed with a fit and trim tummy, your “love handles”—the outer hips just above the buttock—may provide adequate volume for your reconstructed breast. The Lumbar Artery Perforator (LAP) flap uses fat and skin from the hip, without sacrificing muscle. Removing a flap of tissue from this area leaves a horizontal scar where the waist meets the upper buttock. Hip flaps can also be combined with flaps from the abdomen or other areas to produce the overall desired breast volume.
Some interesting notes about LAP flaps:
- Because the muscle isn’t removed or divided, recovery is somewhat quicker and less painful than tissue flaps that harvest muscle.
- The procedure slims the hip area (a bonus!), which can be difficult to reduce with diet and exercise.
- The resulting scar can usually hidden by most underwear and bathing suit bottoms.
Because most plastic/reconstructive surgeons do not perform LAP procedures, one of the most difficult aspects of choosing a LAP flap is finding a plastic surgeon who has the skill, expertise and experience to do it.