Inset techniques for the DIEP flap – what improves aesthetic outcomes?

M. Kadhum1, C. Symonette2, M. U. Javed1

1 Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery, Morriston Hospital, Swansea, United Kingdom 2 London Health Sciences Centre, London, Ontario, Canada


Introduction: The deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap is widely considered as the gold standard in breast reconstruction. The inset technique of the DIEP flap is crucial in determining the overall aesthetic outcome; however, to date no systematic review is available that comprehensively assesses the various techniques. Evaluation of topic: A systematic review was performed according to the PRISMA guidelines. The methodology is outlined within our published protocol (Prospero CRD42023449477). Included articles met a minimal criterion compromising of the intervention (DIEP free flap for breast reconstruction) and outcomes (aesthetic and clinical outcomes). Six articles were included in this review, with a total of 346 patients and a follow-up ranging from 6 months to 4 years. Four articles were of a prospective case series study design, one article was a randomized controlled trial, and one article was a case-control study. The risk of bias was assessed to be high in the case series, but low and moderate in the randomized controlled trial and case-control study respectively. Conclusion: Although limited by the quality of the evidence, the single aesthetic unit principle, dual-plane inset, elimination of the need for a skin paddle, appropriate flap positioning and rotation, and algorithmic in-setting may all improve the aesthetic outcome of DIEP free flaps.

Key words

DIEP free flap – breast reconstruction – microsurgery

Kadhum M, Symonette C, Javed MU. Inset techniques for the DIEP flap – what improves aesthetic outcomes? Acta Chir Plast 2024; 66 (1): 10–15. doi: 10.48095/ccachp202410

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