Background: One-stage reconstruction with "thin perforator flaps" has been attempted to salvage limbs and restore function. The deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap is a commonly utilized flap in breast reconstruction (BR). The purpose of this study is to present the versatility of DIEP flaps for the reconstruction of large defects of the extremities.
Methods Patients with large tissue defects on extremities who were treated with thin DIEP flaps from January 2016 to January 2018 were included. They were minimally followed up for 36 months. We analyzed the etiology and location of the soft tissue defect, flap design, anastomosis type, outcome, and complications. We also considered the technical differences in the DIEP flap between breast and extremity reconstruction.
Results Overall, six free DIEP flaps were included in the study. The flap size ranged from 15 × 12 to 30 × 16 cm 2 . All flaps were transversely designed similar to a traditional BR design. Three flaps were elevated with two perforators. Primary closure of the donor site was possible in all cases. Five flaps survived with no complications. However, partial necrosis occurred in one flap.
Conclusion A DIEP flap is not the first choice for soft tissue defects, but it should be considered for one-stage reconstruction of large defects when the circulation zone of the DIEP flap is considered. In addition, this flap has many advantages over other flaps such as provision of the largest skin paddle, low donor site morbidity with a concealed scar, versatile supercharging technique, and a long pedicle.