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Can anyone advise me about what to look for and what to expect after I return home form my DIEP flap reconstruction?

  • Houston4263
  • 2 years ago

My doctor is five hours away.  Perhaps you ladies could give me some tips as to what to expect.

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I am 34 years old and had a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction using tram flap procedure. My surgery was aug 27, 2013 took 11 1/2 hours. I was in icu for 5 days, and 3 more days in reg room.blood count was very low , has to have 2 blood tranfusions, flap on rt breast didn't heal like left . Before i left we were using bacitracin on incisions bcuz my stomach one had blistered and left a gap. Since I've been home my stomach incision just right below belly button has opened up a lil a seems to be infected also belly button too. I calles ps n went back in she took out all drains but one and said tuea I will come back put me to sleep and cut open incision and stitch itback. But I am scared infection is too bad ive had 2 rounds of antiobiotics n still nothing. Can I ask to be admitted to have IV antibiotics ran ? Also my boobs are as hard as a rock is that normal does that go away? I will have nipple reconstruction in a few months at that time she will be making rt breast match left in size and hopefully lipo my dog ears on hip scars. Has anyone had this done. Sorry for all the questions. This has definitely been the hardest recovery ever .
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Hi diepflapper This site doesn't seem to get much activity. If you are interested in talking to women going through the same thing as you come see us at Breast Cancer. Org and we are the thread DIEP 2013. Come take a look. You will be pleasantly surprised.
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I am 5 weeks post surgery and the only pain I have is in my back on the same side as the new breast. I think I may have been doing too much too soon. I have an abdominal band the hospital gave me and that helps a little. I take Aleve and that helps also. Swelling in the new breast and abdominal areas are slowly going away and I feel very little pain there. The old (good) breast is saggier and hangs lower than the new one, so the surgeon said he can lift that breast to match the new one. I think I will wait on that procedure, just to see if the new breast will soften enough to hang/sag similar to the good breast. In the mean time I have to find something ( bra or other method) to keep the good breast a little higher so I don't look so lopsided. Any ideas out there? I am 60 years old.
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I just finished 4 rounds of chemo and seeing a PC for a double mastectomy and DIEP flap reconstruction at the end of January. Can anyone tell me what recovery will be like? And what kind of shape I should be in 8 weeks after surgery. Wondering what questions I should have for my PC. I am 62 years Los and otherwise healthy. Thanks so much, Nbr

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I am very swollen in reconstructed breast ani in abdominal area. My surgery was on Tuesday and I
Came out of the hospital today.
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Sounds totally normal :) I was swollen for a long time after reconstruction but it goes down
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did you only have the one breast reconstructed, and how was yr surgery, I wish you the best.
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Yes, it's just one breast. The surgery was fine, it's the recovery that's kicking my butt. The reconstructed breast is hard and swollen. My abdominal is very tight and it's hard to stand up straight. I have my first post-surgical visit with the plastic surgeon's office tomorrow. Maybe they can answer my questions.
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Wow, I am so glad I found this place! I had a mastectomy and reconstruction for DCIS 1/2012. The reconstruction was an implant....3 weeks later I was back in the operatiing room as my incision on the breast opened. This created my own grand canyon. The PS used skin grafting to close the wound, Now 6 months later I am facing capsular contracture. (I have formed scar tissue around the implant which is now so hard I call it --my potato)The PS that did my orginal surgery wants to operate and replace the impant. I have decided to go with a second opinion at another hospital that deals with DEIP and or flap surgeries. Has anyone had this experience? removing the impant and going with micro surgery. I am in pretty good health....my first two surgeries I did not have any health issues. I also live in Israel so I am dealing with socialized medicine, which in some ways ia a hassle, but there is not cost. Also they seem not to be in a rush to release you from the hospital ( I was there 8 days for each visit).,I did do much research after the first surgery as my mind was thinking,,,CANCER. Also, has anyone has experience wil Alloderm? Thanks and good luck to all that are facing your surgeries!
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I had a double mastecomy in 10/12. as of today I have capsular which is so painful. So i am going for a Consultation next week. I want these Things out. I have been in pain since I had the silcone put in. Cant take it no more
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I am so sorry to hear about your difficulties. I just had my reconstruction surgery (9/1 new team, new hospital) to find out that my problem was not CC, but a decision made by my first team. They did not see it until I was on the table. This made my year or so a living hell, so I know what you must be going through, I can tell you after this third one, I am very happy with the results. I wish you all the best and hope you get the results you want. Let me know how it goes. I will still another "retouch" to correct the rest of the miserable mess they made the first 2x's
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Hi, I have been reading all of the wonderful supportive posts here! I had a double mastectomy on 11/18/2010 and went through chemo and radiation. Initially I had expanders but because of the radiation it was recommended that I have the diep flap surgery. (also one of my expanders had a hole init and wouldn't expand). I have been walking around with two different sized expanded fake breast mounds. I didn't care because I was very glad to have the cancer gone. I went in on 6/12/12 and had the DIEP flap surgery in Round Rock, TX (just outside of Austin) Luckily I was blessed to have Dr. Habash complete the procedure. I was terrified of being put under for the estimated 8 hours. My surgery actually lasted 11 hours due to difficulty from radiation. He was able to get the veins and capillaries connected. It has been 2 1/2 weeks and I feel great. I am off of pain mess and able to bend and stretch almost normally. I am trying to build my strength back up but I am still resting a lot. I'm sure that is what is helping me heal. I just wanted you to know that this was a great procedure for me and I do not regret it. I was very worried about the stomach cut but it actually was not as bad as I had imagined. I am still sleeping propped up on pillows and also use a pillow under my knees just to protect my stomach and keepit from pulling. I wish the best to those of you that decide to have this procedure. It did make me feel better restoring my body and feeling "normal" again. I am now 45 was 43 when this whole process started. God bless and if you have any questions please feel free to ask.
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Hi Saylor. Good for you, iam so glad to hear that you are doimg well. Thank you for shareing your jounery with me, MY surgery is expected to take 11 hours, Iam having a mastectomy and then both breast re constructed. All ready had the left breast removed last year, at that time i wanted both gone but the dr. wouldnt do that. ( live and learn). Hearing that you and all the others that have shared their stories have done just fine, really does help. I pray that you keep me in your prayers My surgery is aug. 29. thanks and God bless
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Hi Saylor, I am going to have the Diep done next month, December and Dr. Habash is my surgeon. I am glad that it went well, I am hoping for an easy time. I have handled the Mastectomy very well and hope for the same. (but I have never had my stomach cut) It was nice to read all these comments and then see Round Rock and Dr Habash mentioned. :)
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Glad to hear you have Dr. Habash he is so wonderful! If you need anything please let me know! Staci
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How are you doing? Haven't seen any updates-thinking of you!
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Hello Everyone,
I wanted to thank all of those who were thinking of me as I waited for the results of my biopsy on the opposite breast. Thankfully it was 100% benign. The micro calcifications were located in a small area of fat necrosis. The fat necrosis was secondary to the reduction in the right breast in preparation for my diep flap which was done in Jan 2012. I had my revision of the flap and abdominal incision on Wednesday, June 20. Surgery went well. My PS is very pleased with the results. It was a day surgery procedure, unfortunately my body had other ideas and revolted in a big way. I was re-admitted to the hospital Thursday morning with a very low B/P 70/30 and uncontrolled vomiting. I was discharged today (Saturday) and feel 100% better. Took over 2 days to get my B/P above 100 systolic. I had all a full medical work-up to see if they could figure out why I dropped my B/P after anesthesia. No real answer was given. One more fact to make sure all my medical team is aware of. No more day surgeries for me!
I am very happy with the revision so soon after surgery. Hoping I will be able to get the nipple a little further down the road.
Thank you again for your support.
Seattle Sunshine
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I had the DIEP Flap 8 weeks ago. I was in the hospital 4 days. I do not work, but for me the magic number was 6 weeks to really feel like myself again. I was able to drive short trips at 5 weeks, again; because of the twisting and pulling. You shouldn't lift more than a few pounds for the same six weeks - (lifting more than that will cause scar tissue build up).

Speaking of scar tissue, my PS has me using a product called "Scar Leaves". After your wounds completely heal, you place these silicone pieces on the incisions to reduce the scars. I noticed that CVS also has small scar relief sheets, but I dont know how they compare to what the Dr. recommended - Ask your surgeon.

My PS wants to wait about 4 - 6 months before doing my nipples. This allows everything to really "settle" into place, incase we want to make any adjustments to breast size. Also you want to make sure the swelling in the beginning in finished because it will effect the nipple location.

If you choose to have semi-errect nipples, this is done as an outpatient procedure, and will take a couple of weeks to heal. If you choose the pigment tattoo, it is done in office, and will take a couple of hours for both sides. If you have the semi-errect, you will still need to have the tattoo for color.

Ask away - Thats what were all here for.
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Thank u, i knew about the tattooing, and ive seen a set of nipples done, to me the ones i seen looked to big and unreal for me , ...my nipples were never that big. thanks for shareing
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Iam do to have my reconstrction in 8 week, i am so nervous, dont know what to expect, havnt talked to any one. want to know how others have come thur this operation, Did it bother any one as much as it does me ( being put to sleep for 10 to 12 hours) Some one please help!
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Hello Stylin and welcome to our community,

So glad to know you are in the healing phase of cancer and that you have chosen to restore your body with a reconstruction procedure. I am sure your head is spinning with all you have to consider in these next few weeks. Rest assured we are here to help guide you through your journey. Kindly describe the type of procedure you have chosen and those of us who have experienced the same will happily chime in. Don't be bashful...ask anything that comes to mind. xo, Beverly
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For me it was truely one of the easiest surgeries to date. I've had bilateral mastectomy, chemo, radiation, reconstruction - then unknown radiation burns surfaced, so my reconstruction had to be removed because of the radiation damage, so technically another mastectomy.

My surgery was 12 hours - I too was very apprehensive about the lenght of time, but it worked out fine. Just try to stay busy with calming things to keep your mind in a peaceful state. I personally believe in the power of prayer and that was my saving grace.

The first 10 days were tough - Its a big surgery and frankly your just bone weary tired for a few days. Just give in to the tiredness and sleep, sleep, sleep so your body can heal itself. Because of the bikini incision, I could not lay flat for about 3 weeks because it would pull. Also, when I layed flat, my new breast felt very heavy against my chest. I also had to have assistance getting up and down for about a week, My suggestion, would be if you do not have a recliner, at least rent one if you can't buy - and get lots of pillows to prop under where you need it. I found the little travel pillows worked perfect in the chair. I also needed help getting dressed for about 2 weeks because of twisting and pulling - but I basically lived in my pajamas during that time (even for the first checkup)
You probably will need someone to help you at home for at least the first week.

I'm 8 weeks post op and back to my normal life. We used my belly fat (plenty left over from 2 children). I've lost 2 pant sizes, and my "girls" look great. It has really renewed my confidence to have a flat tummy again.

Even with the pain the first few days, it was soooo worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Best of luck and keep us informed with your progress.

P.S. Incase your dr doesnt tell you to, the day you get home, start taking stool softeners. The pain pills will cause terrible constipation, then you will have a whole other issue to deal with.
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Hi stylin,
I have a double and the DIEP flap, honestly I was more excited than scared because I knew it meant the cancer would be out of me. Being under for that long was fine, that's what great anesthesiologists are for. Mine was 12 hours, i think more stressful for my family waiting than for me. Stayed in the hospital for 5 days which went just fine.
When you get home, just remember to really take it easy, do not push yourself, let people help you. Make sure you are sleeping not fully flat, given if you try, you will know not too. I actually went and shopped for moomoos to wear....house dresses. haha at 27 years old, that was a fun thing to shop for to say the least. but, it was the best thing i could have done. easiest to deal with for your drains. here is a great site with a lot of good things to have, was a life savor for me: http://www.pinxwear.com/
i think the drains were the most annoying part to deal with, but just one of those things you have to do. just try not to get frustrated with everything, take it one step at a time.
this is a great community too, please feel free to ask any questions you need!
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Hi eringobragh,
Thanks for the reply, I too am having the same surgery the (diep flap). I had lose my left breast last aug. due to cancer, At that time I wanted the dr, to take them both but he didnt feel comfortable . afer 2 lumpectomy, he finnaly had no choice to take the one, Well any how... i am having the right one remove and both reconstructed. I to am excited , yes just last week i was told about laying down flat. thanks about the moomoos advice, i will check it out. How long were out of work, and how would u rate the pain, Did they use stomach tissue or buttock.
Did you elect to have your nipple done and were you happy with the results. sorry.. I said i had a lot of question, Thanks for sharing
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Iam having the deip flap done aug, 29th, a little scard... dont like the ideal of being put to sleep for 12 to 14 hours... but talking with you"s have helped. how many days did you spend in the hospital,, they are telling me just 3. how long were you off work, and did you do th e nipples, thanks for your advice
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