Women’s & Children’s Hospital, in conjunction with plastic and reconstructive surgeons Dr. Hugo St. Hilaire and Dr. Stephen Delatte, are again the first in Acadiana to offer a revolutionary reconstruction procedure for post-mastectomy breast cancer survivors.

In 2014, the team performed the area’s first Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) flap procedure, which requires use of the patient’s own tissue flaps to reconstruct the breast after a mastectomy, thus reducing the risk of abdominal hernia and weakness after surgery.

This December, Dr. St. Hilaire and Dr. Delatte performed a revolutionary Profunda Artery Perforator (PAP) flap procedure at Women’s & Children’s Hospital. The PAP flap procedure is fast becoming the “go-to” alternative for patients who are not good candidates for a DIEP flap procedure – those who have had a previous abdominal surgery or limited abdominal tissue.

Skin and fat from the posterior thigh is used to reconstruct the breast after a mastectomy. The PAP flap procedure transfers only the skin and fat, thereby leaving the thigh muscle in place to preserve function, Dr. St. Hilaire explained. Scars are often well hidden in the crease of the thigh and lower buttock.

The excised tissue, which resembled a fleur de lis, was then used to create a new breast for the patient. The design allowed the surgeons to maximize the tissue being transferred, a design Dr. St. Hilaire said he and Dr. Delatte created in conjunction with Dr. Robert Allen, a board-certified breast reconstruction surgeon based in New Orleans.

“Women’s & Children’s Hospital is once again a pioneer in breast reconstruction,” Dr. St. Hilaire said. “Our combined experience now allows us to perform individualized breast reconstruction according to the individual patient’s need. Dr. Delatte’s extensive experience in body contouring allowed us to basically design a medial thigh lift in such a way to minimize donor site complication while optimizing the volume of the tissue being transferred.”

This procedure is another wonderful advancement for area breast cancer survivors who have undergone a mastectomy, Dr. Delatte said.

“Now, these women have the option to receive a more aesthetically pleasing, natural looking breast, which, in turn, will help boost their confidence and self-awareness after undergoing a devastating cancer diagnosis and arduous treatment regimen,” he explained. “It’s just one more way Women’s & Children’s Hospital is leading the way for healthcare services to Acadiana families.”

Through the PAP and DIEP procedure, the reconstructed breast retains the shape, softness, mobility and warmth of a natural breast, Dr. St. Hilaire noted. The reconnected tissue is monitored for up to 48 hours after the procedure to ensure blood flow remains intact and no complications arise. Their combined expertise, coupled with their ability to join multiple flaps for one patient if needed, make the breast reconstruction plan a truly individualized one.