Latissimus flap reconstruction helps to completely rebuild the breast and is a popular choice for those who have undergone a mastectomy. When the breast has been fully removed, it isn’t possible to simply insert an implant to fill it out. Instead, it needs to be rebuilt with your body’s own skin, muscles, fat and blood vessels. The chosen donor site is the latissimus dorsi muscle situated in your back.
As the latissimus dorsi muscle is situated closer towards the chest than the sites commonly used for an abdominal tissue flap, this procedure may also be a more suitable choice for those who are not great candidates for SIEA, TRAM or DIEP flap reconstruction.
What does the latissimus flap reconstruction procedure involve?
In a latissimus flap reconstruction, Mr Paul Tulley removes an oval skin flap, along with muscle, fat and blood vessels from the upper back. It’s quite an extensive procedure and the blood vessels are kept fully attached to the same blood supply from the back.
To do this, an incision will be created close to the shoulder blade on your back. The oval shape of skin, muscles, fat and blood vessels will then be slid around to the chest via a tunnel that’s situated underneath the skin, under your arm. Once positioned, they will then be reshaped to form a breast.
While Mr Tulley aims to keep the blood vessels attached to their original blood supply, in some cases they may need to be cut. If this happens, the vessels will be closely matched to the chest blood vessels and then attached.
The surgery will take around three to four hours and it’s done under a general anaesthetic. As you are undergoing surgery on two parts of the body, the recovery time is slightly longer than standard breast reconstruction. It’s advisable to take four weeks off work to recover and heal. Actual recovery times will be discussed with you when you have your consultation with Mr Tulley.
Breast Reconstruction: Introduction
Breast Reconstruction: TRAM / DIEP free-flap
Nipple Reconstruction and Surgery to Produce Breast Symmetry