The latissimus flap uses skin, fat and muscle from the back, which is transferred to the front of the chest to reconstruct a breast following mastectomy. It can be combined with an implant or tissue expander to optimize breast volume.
The latissimus flap is an excellent alternative for patients who are not candidates for reconstruction using abdominal tissue or implants alone. It is important for women to understand their options, however, since other techniques may be appropriate.
Latissimus flap reconstruction is performed under general anesthesia and takes two to four hours for one breast and four to seven hours for both breasts. Patients are hospitalized for three to six days and can return to work in four to six weeks.
Common side effects include bruising and swelling. The procedure leaves a scar on the back, sometimes at the bra strap line. Drain tubes may be required for several weeks after surgery. Delayed wound healing occasionally occurs. Partial flap failure is infrequent.