The post mastectomy TRAM flap procedure refers to using the Transverse Rectus Abdominis Myocutaneous flap for reconstruction of the breasts. The TRAM is the muscle located in the center of the abdomen and is commonly referred to as “ABS”.
This is one of the more popular of the reconstructive options, especially for women who have an excess of belly fat in that area or have an abdomen that has been stretched due to pregnancy. This procedure may be preferred by breast cancer patients because the tissue is retrieved from the stomach tissue and side benefits are sometimes similar to a tummy tuck.
What to Expect
Post mastectomy breast reconstruction is a multi-step process to restructure the symmetry of the breasts that was affected in the mastectomy. There are several reconstructive options for women after a mastectomy.
This is among some of the most personal and emotional decisions that women have to make in regards to their recovery process. When you meet with your plastic surgeon, the two of you will decide which abdominal flap reconstructive option is best for you depending on your specific needs and post mastectomy desires.
TRAM Flap Procedure
Prior to the date of your procedure, you will have a “pre-assessment” to determine your general health and home circumstances. During this appointment you will be given the opportunity to have any questions answered in regards to the procedure and anesthesia and will be given specific instructions to adhere to in the days before your procedure. The reconstructive surgery is performed using general anesthetic and the procedure ranges from six to eight hours in length.
The areas to be performed on will be cleaned using medical grade soap. You will be covered in a sheet in order to keep the operating area clean. Incisions will be made in the area of your body where the tissue will be retrieved. The tissue will be formed into a shape appropriate for your body and breasts. The incisions are sealed using surgical staples or stitches and covered in medical bandages. Nipple reconstruction is typically deferred until the breast reconstructive surgery is completed in order to properly plan the positioning of the nipple and areola.
Recovery from TRAM Flap Breast Reconstruction
After the operation is complete, you will be moved to a recovery area where you can be closely observed. You will be kept very warm in order to aid in the expansion of the blood vessels which will allow circulation to your new breasts.
For the first 48 hours, you will require help from the staff for most activities. During your recovery time, you will be positioned with your knees bent up, with the aid of a pillow, and will be lying almost flat to alleviate any stretching of the newly connected vessels in your new breasts. This will also reduce any strain on the abdominal area where the tissue was retrieved.
Dr. Gartside understands the toll, both physically and emotionally, that it takes on patients who are battling breast cancer. It is her priority to make your breast reconstructive procedure as complication-free and comfortable as possible. You will be guided through the progression to make certain you have a successful passage through the rehabilitation process.
For more information about breast reconstruction surgery after cancer using the TRAM flap, contact board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Roberta Gartside online or by phone at (888) 730-4113. New Image Plastic Surgery Associates provides compassionate care to women in and around Washington, D.C., as well as the Virginia communities of McLean, Reston, and Fairfax.