July 27, 2017
Dr. Anu Bajaj, M.D.
Body Contouring

Why I only do one DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery in a week

Some have asked why I limit the number of DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgeries to only once a week – for me, it is about balance.

My patients may not realize it but I spend many sleepless nights worrying about their outcomes. After a DIEP flap, I frequently lose sleep that night as I worry about the patient and the flap doing well for the critical first 24 hours.

There are many surgeons who may do 2 or 3 in a week or even in a day, but I don’t. I believe that balance is necessary for me to be able to provide the good quality care for each and every patient – that means days when I do DIEP flaps, days when I see patients in the office, days when I do other surgical procedures, and times that I spend with my family and dogs.

A DIEP flap is both a technically and mentally complex procedure that can take 4-5 hours for a unilateral breast reconstruction and 6-8 hours for a bilateral breast reconstruction. When I operate I’m 100% focused on you, my patient – I usually don’t even speak much in the operating room and don’t like the extra conversation because I believe that it can detract from focusing on you and the surgery. During the post-operative course, I always check on my patient that evening after surgery and am able to monitor the status of the flap from my phone on a continual basis. Despite having a 98% success rate, I worry about each and every one of you the same.

So that I can provide this high level of care for every patient, I like to have balance in my practice – that means that every day at work cannot function at the same high level of intensity – it is about balance. Consider that even professional athletes have rest days or days when they don’t play. All professionals require balance to maintain his or her peak performance levels.