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Lori MacKenzie

Innovative DIEP Flap Microsurgery an Alternative to Breast Implants

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Hani Sbiatiny And Lori reports on "free DIEP Flap", an innovative reconstructive  microsurgery performed by breast reconstructive surgeons in the Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at UCSF. The team, led by Hani Sbitany, M.D., Co-Director of the UCSF Center for Reconstructive Microsurgery and Director of the Microsurgical Breast Reconstruction Program, performs the surgery as an alternative to implants during post-mastectomy reconstruction. UCSF is one of the high volume centers for this procedure in the country.

Dr. Sbitany's patient, Lori MacKenzie, underwent the procedure after an earlier breast cancer surgery at UCSF and related her experiences in the SFGate story.

When Lori MacKenzie was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2010, her immediate impulse was to schedule a double mastectomy with implants because that offered her the quickest resolution. But after doing some research, she realized she had other options.

She needed a mastectomy because of the type and location of her cancer. That was done at UCSF last year.

But for her reconstruction, the mother of three from Napa chose a relatively new type of breast surgery. The highly specialized technique uses fat tissue and tiny blood vessels taken from the patient's abdomen to form a new breast, while preserving the abdominal muscle. 

The option, she said, would give her a more natural breast reconstruction than she'd get from having implants and would preserve the abdominal muscle that is often removed in other reconstruction procedures. Plus, she wouldn't have to have her implants replaced in the future, giving her the best long-term results.

"I know I did not want to compromise the functionality of my body for something aesthetic," said MacKenzie, 49, speaking before her surgery in late February. "This seemed perfect."

MacKenzie waited a year until UCSF could bring in a microsurgeon to perform the surgery - called a free DIEP flap, for deep inferior epigastric perforator flap .

The surgeon, Dr. Hani Sbitany, was recruited from the University of Pennsylvania in August to head up UCSF's Breast Cancer Center's microsurgical breast reconstruction program. He has built a microsurgery team that already averages four DIEP flaps a week, quickly making it one of the highest volume centers in the country.

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Tags: Breast CancerBreast ReconstructionMicrovascular Surgery
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