Monday, March 21, 2022
Breast reconstruction patients in northeastern Wisconsin have a new surgical option that offers an alternative to implant-based reconstruction and eliminates the need to travel for care.
Dr. Karri Adamson, a plastic surgeon with Plastic Surgery & Skin Specialists by BayCare Clinic, recently performed DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery for a patient at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay.
“(Being able to perform this surgery here) gives patients in northeastern Wisconsin the opportunity to choose from a full range of breast reconstruction options,” Adamson says. “They don’t need to feel tied to specific procedures if they don’t want to travel.”
Adamson, who joined Plastic Surgery & Skin Specialists by BayCare Clinic in January, completed six years of plastic surgery residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, where she regularly performed the DIEP flap procedure.
She also completed fellowship training at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where she focused on breast reconstruction and microsurgery, skills used in the DIEP flap procedure.
Before Adamson’s arrival, patients in northeastern Wisconsin traveled to Milwaukee or Madison to undergo the DIEP flap procedure. Now the procedure will be an option for patients of Dr. Adamson as well as Dr. Elizabeth O’Connor, Dr. Steven Schmidt, and Dr. Jeffrey Dierberg.
Two plastic surgeons perform this surgery together to decrease the patients’ time under anesthesia, Adamson says.
“Having the surgery here means patients do not have to travel,” she adds. “It makes it easier for them to have support, easier for follow-up appointments especially in the event there are any complications, and it allows us to truly tailor the best reconstructive option for each patient.”
In addition to Adamson, the surgical team for the first DIEP flap procedure at Aurora BayCare Medical Center included plastic surgeon Dr. Elizabeth O’Connor, nurse practitioner Jacqueline Ots, and Pamela Geocaris RN, CPSN from Plastic Surgery & Skin Specialists by BayCare Clinic, anesthesiologist Dr. David Barbara and certified registered nurse anesthetist Eric M. Lee from BayCare Clinic Anesthesia, surgical technician Ally Carlson and registered nurse Jordan House from Aurora BayCare Medical Center.
During the DIEP flap procedure, skin, fat, and blood vessels are taken from the patient’s abdomen, moved to the chest, and the tissue is then reshaped into a breast.
Typically, no muscle is removed.
“It usually provides a quicker recovery with better core function compared to the more traditional TRAM flap where we do cut through muscle. Also, it gives many patients a more natural look and feel to their breasts compared to implant-based reconstruction,” Adamson says. “The transferred tissue lasts forever, does not require routine imaging, and changes naturally with the patient. (In cases where only one breast is reconstructed) it will more closely match their other breast.”
The DIEP flap procedure can be performed on one or both breasts, Adamson says.
Once the new tissue is in place, microsurgery is used to connect the blood vessels in the flap to blood vessels in the chest. Surgeons use precision microscopes and instruments to repair small blood vessels less than a few millimeters in diameter.
The result is a more natural appearance and restored skin and tissue in the treatment area.
As with any procedure, there are risks. According to Adamson these may include delayed healing at the breast or abdomen, bleeding, infection, and the small chance of clot in the vessels supplying the tissue.
Patients who have had abdominal surgery or patients with limited belly fat or other medical conditions may not be ideal candidates for the DIEP flap procedure.
A plastic surgeon can help patients determine whether the DIEP flap procedure is right for them.
Dr. Adamson recently participated in a Facebook LIVE Q&A on DIEP flap breast reconstruction. Watch the video below to learn more.
Our plastic surgeons see patients in Green Bay, Kaukauna and Marinette. To request an appointment, call 920-288-8240 or do so online.