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Seeking DIEP recovery stories

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  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
    edited August 2022
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    ok I need to get on the treadmill big time.

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
    edited August 2022
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    Wow, the scar healed beautifully!! Thank you so much for sharing the pic. Did your breast scar heal like that too?


  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
    edited August 2022
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    serendipity, I Sent you a pm with photo.

  • beebee22
    beebee22 Member Posts: 45
    edited August 2022
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    I am almost 3 mth post-op now. Wound healed with pink/ red scars now, and parts of the abdomen skin and also the belly button feel hard. Is that normally? Will it go smooth after?

  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
    edited August 2022
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    Oh yes my reconstruction areas including the hip to hip incision seemed hard. Especially the reconstructed breast. Took a while, felt strange for a long time. I am 10 years out and still have occasional odd sensations like nerves coming back. I was really afraid to start skiing again but I did a couple years ago I was afraid of falling and hurting myself in the incision. But you know what, I had some big wipe outs and never hurt the area.


    I don't remember when things soften up it was gradual for many months.

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
    edited August 2022
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    Beebee and Meow (and others) - thanks for posting. My surgery is a week from tomorrow. I'm taking notes on everything that I've been reading here; that way I don't freak out if/when these things happen to me. Please continue sharing :)

    After having met with my PS last week and with my BS yesterday I feel so much better going into this. I had way too much time to google and research on my own and was terrified. Went in to my appt with the PS last week trying to talk my PS into another procedure, lol, as expected she said nope.

    Did either of you, or anyone else seeing this, HAVE to use a walker? All three of my surgeons are advising against it, along with the lift chair. They do not want me to "baby myself," for lack of a better term. In speaking with others who had their surgery with the microsurgeon and PS, they all say that their method of getting patients up and going as soon as possible has worked really well with the road to healing quickly.

  • beebee22
    beebee22 Member Posts: 45
    edited August 2022
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    Hi Serendipity, for the walker, i only used it a few times in the in-patient ward while doing some "light exercise". By the time you are allowed to be discharged, you can probably walk by yourself already. At home, I don't need the walker too. Hope that helps =) All the best for the surgery, and keep us posted! Don't forget to bring your facial mask =)

  • gh11
    gh11 Member Posts: 27
    edited August 2022
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    Hello again everyone. I'm also looking at getting a DIEP, had a unilateral mastectomy and figuring things out while I have the tissue expanders in - just noticed people used the word walker? I'm confused about that - the surgery is that invasive? Has anyone here had a C-section and can compare? I would think a c-section is worse as they cut through the muscle and I didn't need a walker for any of my 3 c-sections. Also have an appt with my PS so next week so trying to find out what questions I need to ask...how long do you need to stay in hospital for?


    Thank you so much! Appreciate your help.

  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
    edited August 2022
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    OH no walker for me, it was ok. I was in the hospital 5 days really didn't need to be. I had burning like sensations especially at night. The whole area really pretty numb for a while. Not much pain at all, I got by with Tylenol.

    Wore loose pants for couple weeks. My mobility was not affected, took about 2 months off work to rest and recover.

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
    edited August 2022
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    Thanks to you all for responding.

    gh- I did not have a C-section so I can't compare. The incision is hip-to-hip, you might want to confirm that with your PS though, but I believe that is standard of a DIEP, someone please correct me if I'm wrong. They will be building me a new belly button, which I know is going to be odd, but oh well.

    The only reason I brought up the question about the walker was because somewhere it was mentioned that it was helpful.

    My surgeon anticipates that if everything goes well I will be in the hospital four days

    You may want to ask how many drains you'll have, if any. I was told that I will have five, not sure why five, but I had five when I had my BMX.


  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
    edited August 2022
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    Yes I of course had new belly button it is weird but looks quite nice. After looking at my photos I really need to lose 20 to 30 pounds.

  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
    edited August 2022
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    I had 3 drains, one in reconstructed breast the other 2 only hip to hip incision. I wore a pocket carrier for convenience. I was able to shower the day I was released from hospital. It wasn't too uncomfortable at all. The soft drains didn't bother me I slept on my right side ok.

    By my 2 week check up all drains gone, I felt pretty good I could have driven myself to doctor's office but my husband did. My doctor was amazed at my healing. He said " You are one tough lady", Really the pain was minimal I had more discomfort with the fat transfer months later.

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
    edited August 2022
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    Ok so one drain for each side of the hips, one for each breast and an extra one...

    The drains always felt like they were in the way, otherwise no big deal, more annoying than anything.

    Meow - was your fat transfer from your thighs? I had lipo from the belly and hips area last year and I was sore, but luckily no pain. I hear the thighs hurt. That's where they'll harvest my fat from for stage 2 in Nov/Dec.

  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
    edited August 2022
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    Yes I asked if he could take the fat on inner thigh, he said no let's go with outer thigh because I guess there is more pain and discomfort with inner thigh area. I think he did around the legs, he managed to get 800cc to work with I was around 130 pounds 5 feet 3 inches. You get this garment that goes from the knees to just under breasts. The garment help with pain keep everything supported and smooth. I was bruised big time, there was soreness.

    I made the mistake of doing this in July would have been better in the winter. I bought an extra garment which was really good. You are suppose to wear this almost 24/7 for best results. So as soon as I felt sweaty or itchy I would shower and put the clean garmet on and wash the other one.

  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
    edited August 2022
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    I had this done on a Thursday went back to work the next monday. At the time I didn't have hip, stomach or buttock fat, my stomach was flatter than a pancake, looked really good. My scar took a couple years to turn white like it is now.

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
    edited August 2022
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    I had my exchange to implants last July. Wearing those compression garments during the 90 degree weather did not sit well with me at all. And not being able to get in the pool, that was torture. It's why I chose to have my DIEP on the 25th of this, originally they wanted to schedule me for June 9th, no thanks!! I wanted to enjoy summer just a little.

    I pray that my scars heal as good as yours. I'll just have to be patient.

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
    edited September 2022
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    I'm two weeks and a couple days out from my DIEP, so far so good. All six drains removed. Everyday a little better. but extremely fatigued.

    How long before any of you were given the ok to straighten out? I was told that I needed to wait until I see the PS again on the 19th, that would make it 3+ weeks. I feel like I could do so now, but will follow the doctors orders.


  • jrnj
    jrnj Member Posts: 407
    edited September 2022
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    Glad you are doing well. I wasn’t told anything. I just followed my gut. I was in pretty bad shape for 2 weeks in bed than started to feel better.

  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
    edited September 2022
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    I was able to be straight right away. I remember I was told not to use my left arm and not to raise it.

    Just rest, I can remember falling asleep during the afternoon watching videos. I slept alot and remember the strange burning sensation of my whole front section nerves in shock I guess. Never had any real pain but remember soreness along hip to hip incision when wearing jeans and walking any distance. That soreness last over a month.

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
    edited September 2022
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    Thanks Jrnj!

    I find myself stretching flat out at night, so I think I'm ready. I don't feel as tight as I did before. So I think I'll start to do it gradually

    Meow - my right hip hurts when I go for my short walks. My left hip is not numb like the right. Such an odd feeling on the right side.

    Does this numbness go away completely at some point?

  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
    edited September 2022
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    I think it does I still have numbness in areas and sometimes I get that tingling sensation you know when your leg falls asleep and it comes back to life.

  • jrnj
    jrnj Member Posts: 407
    edited September 2022
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    I walked slightly hunched over to be safe probably 2.5 weeks I think. I was in bed most of that time. By 4 weeks I was doing house projects. Almost 2 years later I still have numbness but it doesn't bother me. I feel tingling in my foobs when I eat sugar lol. I'm not thrilled with my results. I had some stage 2 fat grafting. May try again. The radiated side is softening up some over time

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
    edited September 2022
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    Jrnj - you just gave me some hope reading that the radiated skin will hopefully soften up. My left side (non-radiated) doesn't bother me one bit, but the right side is heavy and sore. Thanks.

    Three week today and now I don't feel bad about not being able to much around the house, I thought I was getting lazy, but in all honesty, it just feels likes it's too much for me right now. I just need to listen to my body. I felt bad for even thinking of hiring someone to clean for me cause there's just no way. I guess I'll be making that call.

    I have a wedding on Saturday and there is no way I can go to it. Luckily I declined the dinner. Thought I'd be ok to go to the reception for a bit, even if it was just to sit. Nope. Way to uncomfortable, plus I don't even know what fits and doesn't fit and I'm not going to get myself worked up over it. It's a ways away from my home and I'd rather just be home and know I can go lay down whenever I want. Hopefully my family understands, if not, oh well!

    How did the stage 2 fat grafting go for you? I had fat grafting last year with my exchange and it wa tolerable, but don't know what to expect this time around.


  • gh11
    gh11 Member Posts: 27
    edited September 2022
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    Hello everyone, I have a DIEP surgery scheduled next week after having a mastectomy with tissue expanders in the right breast. The surgeon told me that if I keep the healthy cancer-free left breast and just do the DIEP reconstruction on the right breast, it obviously makes sense that the natural breast tissue will age and droop differently to the newly constructed right breast from stomach tissue. Did anyone else get a unilateral DIEP (meow I know you did, thank you again for sending the scar picture) and has the drooping between a natural breast and the DIEP breast been very significant? Did you need to have a mastoplexy more than once to keep the symmetry? My surgeon tells me that she can keep lifting the natural breast as many times as I need but then how bad will the scarring be? After your unilateral DIEP, how many times has anyone gone in for a mastoplexy in order to keep symmetry? More than once? How many years after the unilateral DIEP did you need a second mastoplexy in order to keep the symmetry? Thank you!!

    Also, I have gotten to the point of acceptance of no sensation in my right breast in the nipple, but I wonder how I would handle having no natural nipples and no sensation at all. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this? Does it become really bothersome? It feels like a Barbie doll lol....I am so nervous to blindly trust the plastic surgeon with creating "fake boobs" with no nipples...

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
    edited September 2022
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    gh11 - I can't help you with with the questions about the lifts as I'm just three weeks out from my DIEP. Now that the swelling is gone, I can see that my good side is a bit bigger than the breast that had the the cancer, radiation also affected that side. My PS will do a lift during my stage 2 surgery and whatever happens after that will be something I'm going to have to live with. Personally I don't think I can handle anymore surgeries and as you mentioned, the scarring will get worse with each surgery.

    Regarding not having nipples, it only bothers me when I look in the mirror. Physically I feel nothing. There are times when I'm cold that it feels like I have them, phantom pains I guess.

    When they did my DIEP, I was pleasantly surprised that the surgeons intentionally made the incisions on my breasts where my arreolas would've been, so when the time comes that's where the tattoos will go.

    I hope someone else chimes in and answers your questions about the mastoplexy.

    Best wishes to you on your surgery. I hope that all goes smoothly.

  • gh11
    gh11 Member Posts: 27
    edited September 2022
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    Serendipity, did you have a unilateral DIEP or bilateral? When you have a lift in your second stage, would it be one or both breasts? I am guessing you had only one breast reconstructed, or else there would not need to be a second one to lift, as they would already by symmetrical from the bilateral construction, right?

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
    edited September 2022
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    gh11- I had a bilateral. Had my exchange from TE's to implants in July 202. Complications from rads (recurrence discovered during that surgery) and my body rejecting the implants (implants disease?) led me to have the DIEP. The skin on radiated side is tight and higher than the left side.The left breast is perfect, but will need to be lifted for symmetry.

    What day is your surgery?

  • gh11
    gh11 Member Posts: 27
    edited September 2022
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    So sorry to hear of your complications with radiation and implants.I didn't realize radiation affected the skin so that's why you need a lift. I have fortunately been spared that and just need to decide if I want the peace of mind in having both gone, and one shot at the stomach for symmetry. The sacrifice is no natural nipples so wondering how other people who are living with that find it - it's hard to imagine but I guess we get used to it because we have to. My surgery is the 28th of September.

    Appreciate you mentioned the incisions on my breasts so when the time comes that's where the tattoos will go. Something else to discuss with her...

    Also, I sit at a desk for work - you mentioned you are at 3 weeks recovery after your surgery - are you back at work? What is your energy level like after 3 weeks?

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
    edited September 2022
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    Thank goodness you didn't have to do radiation. It was not a good experience for me.

    You can always have nipple reconstruction with arreola tattooed or a 3d nipple/arreola tattoo which look phenomenal. Either way there are options.

    I help a friend of mine with his business. I was back it as soon as I got back home, but from my reclined bed or the recliner chair. Last week I finally was able to sit at the.desk, but not longer than 10 minutes as I'm still uncomfortable. Not because anything hurts, but because the abdomen is very tight. Putting a pillow or two under me helped.


  • brinkofeternity
    brinkofeternity Member Posts: 181
    edited September 2022
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    I was not able to have nipple-sparing mastectomy so now I have one normal breast and one DIEP breast with no nipple. I know I can get a tattoo but I don’t think it can ever really look natural, so I’d rather leave it for now.