Increasing options in autologous microsurgical breast reconstruction: four free flaps for ‘stacked’ bilateral breast reconstruction
For autologous breast reconstruction, there are cases where one free flap cannot provide the volume of tissue required, and the concept of ‘stacked’ bilateral deep inferior epigastric artery (DIEP) flaps was developed, in which hemi-abdominal flaps are raised on each deep inferior epigastric artery (DIEA), and both flaps transferred to the chest. In cases of bilateral breast reconstruction, stacked flaps may be required to achieve volume replacement, however options are not described. We demonstrate the use of stacked free flaps for bilateral breast reconstruction, using one DIEP flap stacked with one transverse upper gracilis (TUG) flap for each side. A 49-year-old woman, with BRCA1 mutation, presented for risk reduction mastectomies. Flap design was planned to achieve maximal projection and primary nipple reconstruction. This was able to be achieved by using the DIEP flap de-epithelialised and completely buried, with the flap orientated with the pedicle on its superficial surface, and the TUG flap lying superficially with its skin paddle used for nipple reconstruction and able to be monitored clinically. There were no flap or donor related complications and good aesthetic outcomes were achieved. This technique offers a further option in microsurgical breast reconstruction for patients in whom there is a paucity of abdominal tissue for reconstruction.