TRAM flap reconstruction is one of the many options available to women who need to rebuild and reshape their breasts after having breast cancer removal surgery or mastectomy. While this procedure can’t restore breast function, it can restore the feminine curves of your upper body.
TRAM flap reconstruction refers to the breast reconstruction technique that uses tissues from the lower abdomen to correct disfigurement and re-create the breast mound. This procedure is named after the transverse rectus abdominus myocutaneous muscle that is used along with surrounding skin and fat to perform this breast reconstruction technique.
Women who have undergone mastectomy (complete breast removal) of one or both breasts and do not want to reconstruct their breasts with tissue expanders or breast implants can benefit from TRAM flap breast reconstruction.
However, patients who have had previous abdominal surgery such as a tummy tuck or hernia repair or do not have enough abdominal tissue to spare are not good candidates for TRAM flap reconstruction. Additional factors such as obesity, diabetes and recent history of smoking may also affect eligibility for this procedure.
During TRAM flap reconstruction, patients are placed under general anesthesia. The procedure takes about 2-3 hours to perform, and if TRAM flap surgery is performed at the same time as your mastectomy, the entire operative period is 4-5 hours.
Skin, muscle and fat tissues are harvested from the abdomen (donor site) and transferred to the chest wall. The blood supply for the donor tissue remains intact and is tunneled under the skin from the abdomen to the chest. Your reconstructive surgeon will then shape the tissues to form a new breast mound. A tummy tuck is also incidentally performed during TRAM flap reconstruction, so in addition to new breasts, you will also have a firmer, flatter tummy after surgery.
Most TRAM flap breast reconstruction patients stay in the hospital for a few days to a week following surgery. Once you return home, you will be instructed to rest and avoid showering for at least 1-2 weeks and wear a non-underwire bra for support. Have a friend or family member help with aftercare and transport you to and from postoperative appointments while you are on pain medication.
Within two months, your recovery period will be mostly complete and additional surgeries such as nipple/areola reconstruction may be scheduled.
Contact the UNC Aesthetic, Laser & Burn Center for more information about TRAM flap reconstruction and other breast reconstruction options. Centrally located in Chapel Hill, we proudly serve patients from the surrounding areas of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Cary, Greenville, Clayton, Fayetteville, Garner, Greensboro, Wilson, Apex, Hillsborough & Sanford.