I may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. All opinions expressed are my own.


When considering breast reconstruction, a big concern for many patients is post-operative pain.

Implant vs DIEP flap: Which is less painful?

Many women believe breast reconstruction with implants is less painful since the procedure is less invasive and has a shorter operative time, but studies have shown this is not the case.

Although the DIEP flap procedure is more invasive and takes longer than traditional implant reconstruction, DIEP flap patients experience less pain.

The DIEP flap minimizes muscle trauma and preserves all the patient’s abdominal and chest muscles. Most implant-based breast reconstruction involves placing the implant under the chest (pectoral) muscle. This requires releasing and lifting the muscle off the chest wall to create a pocket for the implant which is painful and adds to the recovery.

For patients who are not candidates for direct-to-implant procedures, tissue expanders are progressively filled over time to stretch the overlying breast tissues. This expansion process can be very uncomfortable for some patients.

At PRMA Plastic Surgery, we take extra steps to ensure minimal discomfort and shorter hospital stays for our patients after DIEP flap reconstruction.

In fact, with the implementation of our Enhanced Recovery after Surgery (ERAS) protocol, patients rarely need narcotics to control pain levels after surgery. Most PRMA patients maintain extremely good pain control post-operatively with non-narcotic drug combinations including Celebrex and extra-strength Tylenol. Improvements in recovery mean patients are up out of bed much earlier after surgery and are also ready to go home sooner; our Enhanced Recovery Protocol has decreased patient hospital stay after DIEP flap surgery to just three nights.

Dr. Chrysopoulo is a board certified plastic surgeon, breast reconstruction surgeon and microsurgeon. He moved to San Antonio, Texas from London to join the PRMA Plastic Surgery team in 2006.

You can read his blog feed here, and read his full bio here.

We are so grateful to Dr. C for taking the time to share with us today and also for his dedication to improving the quality of women’s lives after surviving cancer!

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