Latissimus Dorsi Flap Reconstruction After a Mastectomy

Published on December 30, 2016 by

Latissimus Dorsi Flap Reconstruction is a common procedure among breast cancer survivors and other patients that have undergone a mastectomy. The technique was designed to reconstruct the breast using the Latissimus Dorsi muscle in the upper back, an oval flap, skin, and muscle. This surgery is the most popular form of breast reconstruction and is known to produce good results.

Preparing for the Procedure

A Latissimus Dorsi Flap Reconstruction is a major surgery that requires a complete health checkup prior to the procedure. General precautions that are taken before the surgery include the prohibition of smoking and specific medications.

Your doctors may also advise patients to stop eating after midnight the day before the surgery. Patients will need about a month to recover and have to make arrangements for taking time off work and for receiving daily help with day-to-day activities.

The Procedure

The latissimus dorsi muscle is located on the upper back and helps with movements that require twisting and bending. The muscle is supplied by the thoracodorsal artery and during the surgery, the main vessels are still attached to the body to keep the blood flowing.

During the latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction, an incision is made on the back of the patient near the shoulder blade. An oval flap is created from fat, skin, and muscle. This flap is tunneled under the patient’s skin to the chest, where it will create small to medium sized breasts.

If a patient chooses to have breast implants then the flap is only inserted in order to create a pocket for the implants. The implants are placed and shaped as desired before the incision is closed. The procedure will leave a post-surgical mark behind but surgeons often place the incision in a region that is easily hidden by a bra strap.


After the procedure, the patient has to stay in the hospital for a few days. Vitals will be noted and required medication for pain will be provided. Patients will experience pain and soreness for a few days after the surgery but adequate medication can help ease the frustration. If drains are placed in your chest during the surgery, the doctor will remove them after a few days.

Patients are required to wear a support bra or elastic bandages around their breasts to promote healing. Generally, sutures used to close the incisions are soluble and dissolve shortly after the surgery. If non-soluble sutures are used, they are removed during follow-up appointments.

Physical activities that involves bending, twisting, and lifting is to be limited for up to a month after the surgery, so that proper healing can take place. The doctor will provide clear instructions for recovery and these instructions are to be followed strictly.


There are no major hindrances to daily life activities after the surgery. After the regulated period of healing, patients can resume their routines without any discomfort. Patients experience increased levels of confidence as their body image improves. For patients struggling with normal movements for a prolonged period of time, physical therapy can help.

Contact Our Office

Contact our office to learn more about a latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction after a mastectomy. During your consultation, Dr. Jaime Schwartz, a board-certified plastic surgeon, will help you obtain the looks you desire in a safe and comfortable environment.

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Jaime S. Schwartz, MD, FACS

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon


Beverly Hills Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Jaime S. Schwartz specializes in breast reduction, breast augmentation, breast cancer reconstruction, and breast revision.