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The Effect of Prior Abdominal Surgery on Abdominally Based Free Flaps in Breast Reconstruction

Roostaeian, Jason M.D.; Yoon, Alfred P. B.S.; Sanchez, Ivan S. B.S.; Rahgozar, Paymon M.D.; Galanis, Charles M.D.; Herrera, Fernando M.D.; Tseng, Charles Y. M.D.; Festekjian, Jaco H. M.D.; Da Lio, Andrew L. M.D.; Crisera, Christopher A. M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: March 2014 - Volume 133 - Issue 3 - p 247e–255e
doi: 10.1097/01.prs.0000438059.52128.8c
Breast: Original Articles

Background: The abdomen has long remained the preferred donor site in breast reconstruction. Over time, the flap has evolved to limit morbidity with reduced muscular harvest. Previous abdominal operations, however, may limit the ability to perform a muscle- or fascia-sparing flap. The purpose of this study was to evaluate outcomes in women who had prior abdominal operations and underwent abdominally based autologous breast reconstruction.

Methods: All patients who underwent abdominally based breast free flap reconstruction between 2004 and 2009 were reviewed. A study group of patients with previous open abdominal surgery were compared to patients with no prior abdominal surgery. Patient demographics, operative details, and flap and donor-site complications were analyzed.

Results: A total of 539 patients underwent abdominally based breast free flap reconstruction. The study group consisted of 268 patients (341 flaps) and the control group consisted of 271 patients (351 flaps). Prior abdominal surgery led to greater muscular harvest, as 19.9 percent in the study group versus 12.0 percent required muscle-sparing 1–type harvest (p < 0.01). Both groups presented similar overall complications, with the exception of lower partial flap loss and increased wound healing complications in the study group (p < 0.05). Abdominal wall laxity became less frequent with increasing number of prior abdominal operations.

Conclusions: Abdominally based flaps for breast reconstruction, including muscle-sparing 3 (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flaps, can be performed safely in patients with prior abdominal surgery. These patients should be informed, however, of an increased chance of muscular harvest and wound healing complications.


Los Angeles, Calif.; and Dallas, Texas

From the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of California, Los Angeles; and the Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Received for publication July 7, 2013; accepted August 26, 2013.

Disclosure: The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article.

Jason Roostaeian, M.D., Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of California, Los Angeles, 200 Medical Plaza, Suite 465, Los Angeles, Calif. 90095,

©2014American Society of Plastic Surgeons