TRAM Flap Reconstruction in Richmond, VA
If you are not a good candidate for breast reconstruction with implants, TRAM flap reconstruction will help you restore your breasts after a mastectomy. Richmond Plastic Surgeons offers TRAM flap reconstruction for women in Richmond, Midlothian and surrounding areas of Virginia.
What is TRAM Flap Reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction with implants requires that you have adequate skin and soft tissue to accommodate a breast implant. Surgeons are not always able to leave adequate tissue for the procedure due to the nature and extent of the breast cancer. TRAM flap reconstruction offers a new solution for many women who previously were unable to have their breasts restored after a mastectomy. The surgery uses a section of the transverse rectus abdominis muscle in your abdomen to reconstruct the breast.
Benefits of TRAM Flap Reconstruction
The primary benefit of TRAM flap reconstruction is to provide a solution for breast reconstruction to women who do not qualify for implant-based reconstruction. The surgery works by using skin, muscle and blood supply from the abdomen to construct the breast.
Who is the Ideal Candidate for TRAM Flap Reconstruction?
TRAM flap reconstruction is not recommended for women who:
- Don’t want implant-based reconstruction
- Have failed implant-based reconstruction
- Have not had an abdominoplasty or some other abdominal surgeries
If you are not a good candidate for TRAM flap or implant-based reconstruction, our surgeon will recommend alternative methods for restoring your breast shape.
What Do I Need to Do Before Having TRAM Flap Reconstruction?
TRAM flap reconstruction involves several vital anatomical features, many of which are quite small. The surgery is most successful when performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon who has extensive experience in the technique. The best way to ensure a positive outcome from your TRAM flap reconstruction is to start with a consultation at Richmond Plastic Surgeons.
What Should I Expect on The Day of My TRAM Flap Reconstruction?
TRAM flap reconstruction after a mastectomy can be performed using one of two techniques:
- Pedicled TRAM flap surgery maintains the blood supply to the abdominal area. The flap is routed under your skin to the chest area where it is used to reconstruct the breast.
- Free TRAM flap surgery involves removing the flap from the abdomen and reconnecting the blood supply to the chest area. The flap is then used to reconstruct the breast.
The incision for TRAM flap surgery is made along the bikini line and follows an oval path to create an oblong section of tissue. The flap is either routed under the skin (pedicled) or repositioned (free) to the chest area. Your surgeon uses the tissue to form a breast mound.
How Long Does It Take to Perform TRAM Flap Reconstruction?
Free TRAM flap reconstruction takes six to eight hours, and pedicled TRAM flap reconstruction takes four hours.
What to Expect After TRAM Flap Reconstruction
You remain in the recovery for a period of time before being admitted to the hospital where you will remain for up to five days. Before being released, we will provide detailed instructions for your after-care. Full recovery can take six to eight weeks, and you may need to wear a special compression garment during this time. TRAM flap surgery involves tissue in two locations on your body, so you may have symptoms related to both surgical sites, such as pain, swelling, stiffness and bruising. You will need to exercise caution when sitting or rising from a sitting position. Someone should stay with you to help with these activities and manage your day-to-day needs. Because portions of your abdominal muscles are transplanted during the procedure, you will need to undergo physical therapy to learn how to use other muscles of your body. Strenuous activities and sex should be avoided for six weeks.
Will I Have Scars After Getting TRAM Flap Reconstruction?
You will have scars in your abdominal and breast area.
When Will I See the Results?
Full healing from TRAM flap reconstruction can take up to one year. You may decide to have a secondary surgery to recreate the nipples and refine the breast shape.
What Are Possible Complications of TRAM Flap Reconstruction?
Possible complications associated with TRAM flap reconstruction are:
- Muscle weakness in the abdomen
- Breakdown of tissue
- Lumps and abnormalities in the reconstructed breast
- Abdominal wall hernias
We also advise our patients that TRAM flap reconstruction limits your options for future surgeries.
- The donor site cannot be used for future breast reconstruction.
- If you have one breast constructed initially, future surgeries for the second breast will need to use tissue from another donor site.
How Long Will the Results of TRAM Flap Reconstruction Last?
The results of TRAM flap reconstruction are permanent, but you may need future surgeries to enhance the results.
How Much Does TRAM Flap Reconstruction Cost in Richmond?
Your insurance may cover a portion of the cost. We are better able to explain your out-of-pocket costs after the consultation. For your convenience, Richmond Plastic Surgeons accepts several forms of payment, and financing is available through CareCredit®.
If you are not a good candidate for implant-based reconstruction, TRAM flap reconstruction may be the right choice after a mastectomy. Contact us to schedule a consultation to learn more about TRAM flap reconstruction.