Background: This study analyzes abdominal weakness, hernia, and bulge following deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap breast reconstruction. Abdominal wall morbidities are categorized, and an algorithm for management is provided. Methods: A retrospective review of 644 patients who underwent abdominal based flap breast reconstruction between 2009 and 2018 and met selection criteria was performed. Bulge and hernia were evaluated on exam and then by imaging and/or operative exploration. The incidence of abdominal weakness was evaluated by BREAST-Q™ data. Risk factors were analyzed. Results: Of the 644 patients, 23 (3.6%) had a clinically significant bulge or hernia on exam postoperatively. Developing an abdominal wound postoperatively and sacrificing nerves both correlated with an increased incidence of bulge or hernia (p < 0.05). The use of lateral row perforators, keeping the umbilicus, higher BMI, and the use of biological mesh in the initial abdominal wall repair trended toward an increased incidence of bulge or hernia; however, these data were not statistically significant. Seven percent of patients who answered the BREAST-Q™ reported abdominal weakness. Patients in the umbilicus sacrificing cohort had an increased incidence of weakness (p < 0.05). Abdominal wounds, nerve sacrificing procedures and obesity correlated with an increased incidence of weakness; these data were not statistically significant. Conclusions: A classification and algorithm for treatment of functional abdominal wall morbidity after DIEP flap is provided. Abdominal wall morbidity is classified as: type 1 – abdominal weakness; type 2 – smaller, unilateral abdominal bulge; and type 3 – true abdominal hernia or large bilateral bulge. An algorithm of treatment is presented, which includes physical therapy and surgical repair recommendations.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery|
|State||Accepted/In press - 2021|
- Abdominal morbidity
- DIEP flap
- Nerve sparing
ASJC Scopus subject areas