The Outpatient DIEP: Safety and Viability following a Modified Recovery Protocol

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Abstract

Background:

Breast reconstruction with autologous tissue is considered the current state-of-the-art choice following mastectomies, and the deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap is often among the favored techniques. Commonly referred to patients as a combination between a tummy tuck and a breast augmentation, it significantly differs by the required expertise and long hospital stays. We present a series attesting to the feasibility and effectiveness of performing this type of reconstruction in an outpatient setting following our recovery protocol.

Methods:

Patients undergoing DIEP flap breast reconstruction followed a recovery protocol that included intraoperative local anesthesia, microfascial incision technique for DIEP harvest, double venous system drainage technique, rib and chest muscle preservation, and prophylactic anticoagulation agents.

Results:

Fourteen patients totaling 27 flaps underwent breast reconstruction following our protocol. All patients were discharged within the initial 23 hours, and no take-backs, partial, or total flap failures were recorded. A case of abdominal incision breakdown was seen in 1 patient during a postoperative visit, without evidence of frank infection. No further complications were observed in the 12-week average observation period.

Conclusion:

With the proper use of a microfascial incision, complemented by rib sparing and appropriate use of injectable anesthetics, routine breast reconstructions with the DIEP flap can be safely performed in an outpatient setting with discharge in the 23-hour window.

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