Pioneering dual breast surgery first for renowned HSMA hospital


King Edward VII’s Hospital becomes first UK hospital to combine DIEP flap reconstruction with the LYMPHA technique for prevention of secondary breast cancer related lymphedema

King Edward VII’s Hospital has announced an achievement in breast reconstruction surgery, having performed its first deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap reconstruction in combination with lymphatic microsurgical healing approach (LYMPHA), a technique for the prevention of secondary breast cancer related lymphedema. The innovative dual surgery procedure was performed by leading surgeons Mr Paul Thiruchelvam and Mr Navid Jallali, who recently joined the multi-specialist hospital’s Breast Unit. Together with colleague Miss Judith Hunter, they are the only group to undertake these extremely complex combined procedures in the UK.

A DIEP flap reconstruction is a type of breast reconstructive surgery where fat, skin, and blood vessels are transposed from the lower abdomen and moved up to the chest to rebuild the breast mound. During this complex procedure, which can take up to eight hours in surgery and requires special surgical training as well as expertise in microsurgery, no muscle mass is removed to recreate the breast. For patients who have undergone a mastectomy it offers a lower risk of losing abdominal muscle strength and a shorter recovery time compared to traverse rectus abdominal muscle (TRAM) flap procedures.

Demanding microsurgical procedure
The pioneering operation was performed for the first time at King Edward VII’s Hospital in combination with lymphatic microsurgical healing approach (LYMPHA), a highly technically demanding microsurgical procedure requiring close coordination between the oncologic surgeon and microsurgeon, and highly skilled nursing support pre- and post-operatively.

Current clinical evidence shows that the innovative technique reduces the risk of secondary breast cancer related lymphedema, which remains a feared complication of breast cancer treatment, affecting about one in five people. For patients undergoing treatment, it offers a novel way to maintain good quality of life.

Quality and dedication
Kate Farrow, director of operations at King Edward VII’s Hospital, commented: “Having successfully undertaken these procedures for patients as part of our dedicated support for the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic, we are delighted that a number of the outstanding team at Imperial College NHS Trust have since joined our team to offer the procedure privately. It is testament to the quality and dedication of the support team at King Edward VII’s Hospital that this group of leading surgeons has chosen us to facilitate this pioneering and highly complex procedure.”