• About to have bilateral mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction, any hints on recovery?

    Asked by Steph921 on Saturday, November 24, 2012

    About to have bilateral mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction, any hints on recovery?

    I'm about to have a bilateral mastectomy with DIEP reconstruction on December 17th and I'm nervous. Can anyone tell me what to expect in the hospital and beyond from a patient's prospective? How long before I can resume activities? I live in a 2 story house, were you able to climb stairs right away or should I move downstairs? How did you feel emotionally? Any advice or helpful hints would be greatly appreciated! Thanks everyone for your help!!

    13 Answers from the Community

    13 answers
    • Ydnar2xer's Avatar

      Hi Steph: Are you going to have the diep immediately after your mastectomy? I didn't know they did that. I had my bilateral mast in August, am doing chemo now and won't begin any DIEP procedures until sometime this spring. We should stay in touch, as we'll be going through the same thing at about the same time.

      over 8 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      I hate being a patient in the hospital so the worst part for me is just the being there. I had several surgeries with 2 different stays in the hospital. Expect to be annoyed and a nurse waking you up every couple of hours but no where to be found when you need them. You will probably go home with drains and that will be a bit annoying for a week or two. Taking steps should be no problem. Emotionally I felt great as soon as I got home. I was annoyed and bored while in the hospital.

      over 8 years ago
    • cbutinski's Avatar

      I wish I was given the option of a DIEP flap, I had a bilateral masectomy and expanders that took from July 6th 2011 to March 7 2012 from first surgery to last, I would love to have had the oportunity to have some fat removed off of any part of my body.

      over 8 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      I had a bilat with expanders, so I can't help with the DIEP, but wanted to wish you an easy time with the surgery and easy recovery....all the best...

      over 8 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      The hospital stay was anything but restful -- vitals taken throughout the night, noise and light from hallway, etc. I was so hot -- a fan was requested from central supply but never appeared. However, my nurse was great -- kind and caring. I was so glad to get home. I posted details of my journey on my wall which include my feelings and the hints I found that helped make me more comfortable. There is a lot of "detail" but it may help you to know what to expect. I wish you the best and will remember you in prayer on Dec 17th,

      over 8 years ago
    • Momofivedcisbc's Avatar

      I just had a bilateral mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction on September 18, 2012. It has been two months and physically I am recovering well with physical therapy. I had a four day hospital stay where I went to the post anesthesia unit after the initial recovery room to monitor both of my flaps. The drains were uncomfortable, but they came out at day 10. I started walking right away and the surgeons said that it aided my recovery right from the start. I was able to resume activities after two weeks and I also live in a 2 story house. I slept in a recliner the first week home and that was very helpful. I think emotionally I was strong, because the reconstruction was started right away. I let others cook and clean for the first 2 weeks....then I slowly resumed more activities every day. I do not regret my decision and I am sleeping soundly again. I am adjusting and embracing my new body every day. I switched to over the counter pain medication after the hospital stay....I didn't like the side effects. I wish you the best of luck and if I can help more....don't hesitate to ask more questions.

      over 8 years ago
    • Msreje's Avatar

      The unknown is always very hard. I had never been in a hospital- except for giving birth to my son 14 years ago- until my surgery. I was so so scared. I prepared my house before I went into the hospital: cleaned from basement to second floor, stocked the pantry and freezer, rearranged things in order for others to find (my husband nor son ever know where anything is, they say I hide things), cleared my closet of clothes that I would not be needing for a while and purchased a few that I would need. I know that I would not feel comfortable in jeans nor slacks that were tight around the waist. I purchased yoga pants with very loose waists- the best are the ones from Old Navy. I also purchased a couple of surgical bras. Ask your plastic surgeon if the hospital will provide you with one. Some doctors say that a sports bra is ok, I found them to be terrible, the surgical bra gives you much better support. The hardest purchase of all- emotionally was the wig. I prayed that it would only be something I purchased to later return without using but this was not the case. After my second round of chemo my hair started to thin and fall. I am still wearing it along with hats and caps.
      As to my stay in the hospital I found staff, nurses and doctors to be very kind, compassionate and understanding. I was in the hospital for 5 days. I felt safe and cared for. If I had a question or concern it was addressed immediately. To tell you the truth I was scared about going home. I too have my bedrooms on the second floor. The stairs were hard for the first two weeks but not impossible. I came home with drains after the surgery- they were removed 3 weeks after the surgery- and they were uncomfortable. As I could not lay flat on my bed due to the surgery I chose to sleep on my recliner couch for 4 weeks. I felt content with this, if I woke up in the middle of the night I could watch tv, read a book without waking up my husband. I came home with pain killers which I took only for about 3 days, I did not need more. Before I was discharged from the hospital a social worker offered to send a nurse to the house which was a blessing. She only came for an hour but she helped me with the drains- they need to be cared for- change my bra, etc. She always stressed the fact that I needed to do, fold the laundry, set the table, simple and small tasks but do, keep moving, no sitting all day!
      The journey is long and hard but it is what we make it to be. We must be strong and not give up, there are days when I cry and others where I forget what I am going thru. Every day is a new start and I say to myself: it has to be better than yesterday!!!! I am a fighter- always was and will continue to be. I never asked myself why me? Like we say to the kids you get what you get but in our case we can get upset but not give up. As the days pass I forget the harder moments of this stage of my life, I try to focus on only the positive ones. I found good people along the way and learned to cherish the good moments. Life is always hard but it is within us to try to make is easier a little at a time. All my best to you.

      over 8 years ago
    • laurie's Avatar

      I had a mastectomy and a tram flap reconstruction last December. I was in the hospital for 5 days. It is a very long surgery and when I woke up I felt like I had been run over by a truck! They have you up walking with a walker within a day. You have to stay hunched over because of the belly incision. They actually sent a walker home with me but I never really needed it. Walking up stairs isn't easy for the first few weeks. The hardest time was the first week home from the hospital. I felt pretty miserable but I think the pain meds were making me overly emotional. By week three I was feeling a lot better. Took several months to get my strength back. I have needed a couple revision touch-ups but everything is good. I love having a flat stomach! Would definitely do it again! Some of the fat died off in my new breast so they did a fat graft and I'm still waiting to see how that is going to work out. That was 5 weeks ago. Good luck to you. I will be praying for a speedy recovery for you!

      over 8 years ago
    • DYTYBR's Avatar

      Great question and answers! I am scheduled for a bilateral mastectomy with flap reconstruction as well on January 23. JennyMiller, I am looking for your post on the surgery for your hints. I read your journey but couldn't find info on the surgery? I am learning how to navigate through this site so I could have missed it. I enjoyed your posts on your journey.

      Steph921, wishing you well! If you feel up to it after surgery, I would love to hear about your journey through the surgery too! Thanks!

      over 8 years ago
    • MarnieC's Avatar

      Hi Steph - I've written a couple of articles that may assist you: http://marnieclark.com/types-of-reconstruction-surgery-the-diep-flap/ and http://marnieclark.com/tips-for-surgery-useful-items-to-take-with-you/ I hope that they help you!

      over 8 years ago
    • MarS676's Avatar

      Hi Steph-
      I will be having the same exact surgery on December 16th and I am super nervous. Reading through some of these comments eased my mind just a bit. Hope your surgery goes well.

      over 8 years ago
    • MarS676's Avatar

      Hi Steph-
      I will be having the same exact surgery on December 16th and I am super nervous. Reading through some of these comments eased my mind just a bit. Hope your surgery goes well.

      over 8 years ago
    • DaveWaz's Avatar

      Thank you for sharing your questions. I hope all is well.

      This question reminded me of some content we have on reconstruction experiences.




      It also reminded me to let WhatNexters know about our Beginner's Guide to Cancer, including a guide on how women chose between a lumpectomy and mastectomy.


      Best of luck to all,

      over 7 years ago

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