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Latissimus dorsi flap breast reconstruction

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This flap borrows muscle and skin from the upper back. The tissue, while still partially attached to the body – via a ‘pedicle’ – is tunnelled underneath the skin from the back, through to the chest while still attached to its blood supply, which keeps the tissues alive during and after transplantation.

Although this method provides much of the needed skin, there is not enough tissue volume to form the breast mound by itself. Therefore, either a tissue expander or implant is used to stretch the transferred muscle and skin from the back. At a later stage, the tissue expander is replaced with a permanent breast implant.

This procedure is most commonly performed if the patient has had a mastectomy on one of their breasts followed by radiation – whereby a patient is not suitable for TRAM or DIEP flap reconstruction. This procedure is not recommended for patients who need to perform lot of repetitive or strenuous overhead activities with their arms.

In summary:

  • ESurgery time: 2–3 hours each breast
  • EHospital stay: 1–3 nights
  • ERecovery time: Expander 3–4 weeks / Flap 4–8 weeks until back to regular activities