Background: The deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap is the gold standard in autologous breast reconstruction. When the abdomen is not available, alternative donor sites can be found at the buttock, the lumbar region, or the thighs. These flaps are referred to as second-choice flaps. This study compares the superior gluteal artery perforator (SGAP) flap and the lumbar artery perforator (LAP) flap to the DIEP flap using patient-reported outcomes.
Methods: A retrospective study was performed reviewing the records of 417 women who underwent a free flap breast reconstruction with either a DIEP, an LAP, or an SGAP flap, between 2006 and 2018. Patients were asked to fill out the BREAST-Q questionnaire, and patient-reported outcomes were analyzed and correlated to the demographic information.
Results: The response rate was 54.5 percent, with 50 LAP, 153 DIEP, and 25 SGAP flap patients participating. When questioned about their satisfaction with breasts and satisfaction with outcome, all three procedures were rated similarly high. When comparing the physical well-being of the donor site and appearance of the donor site, LAP flap patients reported significantly lower scores than DIEP and SGAP flap patients.
Conclusions: Patients who undergo LAP or SGAP flap breast reconstruction seem similarly satisfied with the appearance and outcome of their free flap breast reconstruction compared with DIEP flap patients. The donor-site morbidity and its impact on the patient's well-being in SGAP and LAP flap patients have been underestimated. Despite more donor-site discomfort, the LAP and SGAP flaps are feasible alternatives whenever the DIEP flap is not possible.