Abdominal fascia refers to connective tissues that are part of the stomach region. Fascia serves as an important connection between and barrier for muscles, organs, bones, and nerves, binding them together and keeping them within the same region of the body. This fascia helps hold together this crucial area of the torso and is also used for reconstructive breast surgery.
Fascia is not an all-encompassing term. The word can refer to various types of fascia tissue, depending on the tissue’s location and function within the body. In abdominal fascia, the fascia closest to the top layer of the skin, known as superficial fascia, has a different density and makeup than the deeper types of fascia lining the organs and the abdominal wall. Fascia that lines the organs is referred to as visceral fascia, and the abdominal area includes several other types of fascia, each having a different composition and purpose.
The fascia that surrounds the stomach is somewhat unique. Rather than being thick and fibrous, like most deep-tissue fascia, it is looser and less dense, allowing the stomach to expand or contract. This is crucial for the various functions of the stomach, such as eating and drinking. Some types of abdominal fascia exist only to meld the various organs and pieces of the abdomen together so that they stay connected and functional. The fascia that encloses the intestines is very dense, in order to keep the intestines compact and prevent them from protruding against the skin.
Surgeons and scientists have found uses for the fascia in other areas of the body. The tissue comprising some types of abdominal fascia is similar in density and texture to that of breast tissue. Surgeons can remove small pieces of fascia and insert it into the breast during reconstructive surgery, creating a natural-looking breast. The transplanted tissue still requires blood flow to function properly and can either continue to utilize blood from the abdominal region or be connected to the blood supply in the chest.
Using abdominal fascia for breast reconstruction is most commonly done after a mastectomy. Along with the fascia, some fat from the stomach area is usually also transferred to the breast to create a natural-looking appearance. A positive side effect from this type of procedure is improved stomach appearance after the transfer of fat from the abdominal region to the breast area. The newly created breast often looks and feels like a natural breast.