SMMC performs first DIEP flap breast surgery

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Dr. Marlon Buncamper (c) and Dr. Marleen Meesters (r) with operating room staff performing the DIEP flap microsurgery

 

CAY HILL, ST. MAARTEN — International Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon Dr. Marlon Buncamper recently performed the first ever deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap breast surgery at St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC). Dr. Buncamper, shadowing Plastic Surgeon Dr. Marleen Meesters and a team of skilled operating room team performed the surgery to restore the breast shape of a patient who previously underwent a mastectomy as breast cancer treatment. The patient has since made a full recovery. 

The seven-hour long complex surgery involved taking a section of tissue from the abdomen and relocating it to create a new breast. The skin, fat and vessels from the abdomen were transposed by means of microsurgery (intricate surgery using miniaturized instruments and a microscope) to the breast area resulting in new breasts that feel and react natural because it is made of the patients’ own tissue. It is called a DIEP flap surgery after the blood vessel that runs through the abdominal muscle. This is a newer procedure that has fewer long-term risks and complications than alternative options for breast reconstruction. 

(L-R) Dr. Felix Holiday, Dr. Marlon Buncamper and Dr. Marleen Meesters

Dr. Buncamper, an accomplished plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgeon, has roots in St. Maarten but practices in Belgium and the Netherlands. In 2020, he joined SMMC as a rotational specialist, providing consultations and performing surgeries a few times per year. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Plastic Surgery Department of SMMC in 2020. Upon the completion of the surgery, which is considered top of the line in breast reconstruction, Dr. Buncamper remarked “I’m proud to have been part of this monumental surgery which is the first on St. Maarten. I’m happy that we were able to give a woman on St. Maarten the opportunity to regain her femininity and to not have to leave the island to do it. I hope that we will be able to help many more women in the Dutch Caribbean as well”.

SMMC CEO Dr. Felix Holiday congratulated the team saying “It fills us with immense pride that we are now able to expand the services we provide with the addition of this new procedure. Dr. Buncamper, Dr. Meesters and the entire operating room team have given this patient a new outlook on life and we look forward to providing many other women who have suffered through breast cancer more options for recovery and healing right here on St. Maarten”. 

Patients interested in a consultation at the Plastic Surgery Department of SMMC are encouraged to make an appointment by calling +1 (721) 543-1111 or 910 ext 1300 from Monday through Friday between 8:00am and 4:00pm. SZV patients are requested to obtain a referral letter from their family doctor.