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DIEP - supporting core muscles long term after surgery

Hi – I had my procedure done a little over a year ago. I still have a lot of weakness in my core muscles. I'm doing exercises to help with that (yoga, rowing, physical therapy), but this lack of support gives me a lot of back pain. I try to remind myself as often as I can to engage my core muscles, but it's just not possible to do that every minute all day.

Do you think some kind of "shape-wear" would help? I had the rigid supportive undergarments one wears after this kind of surgery, but I can't wear something like that on a daily basis anymore. Does anyone have experience wearing some kind of supportive garment that helps support you until you can strengthen your core muscles?

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  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,683

    Bumping for @kristinaa , can anyone weigh in with their experiences with strengthening core muscles after DIEP surgery?

  • abigailj
    abigailj Member Posts: 100
    edited December 2023

    I didn’t experience any change to core strength from DIEP (once I could resume normal activity after recovering from surgery and got my strength back) since no stomach muscles are cut through during DIEP. So I’m wondering if you had some additional procedure involving muscle along with the DIEP? I did wear a spanx-like garment (not the expensive name brand, a cheaper version that was just as supportive) for a month, maybe two, after stopping the abdominal binder I had to wear for several weeks after my surgery. Maybe that would be worth a try. I also suggest calling the PS who did your DIEP to ask what they recommend. Hope you find a good solution.

  • ratherbesailing
    ratherbesailing Member Posts: 117

    Actually, the surgeon needs to cut through the abdominal muscle to access the perforator blood vessel, and sometimes they end up taking a very small portion of the muscle itself.

    I, too, had significant weakness after DIEP - one study shows it happens to 7% of patients. To be honest, five years later it still isn't quite the same as before the procedure, but it has improved. As abigailj says, you probably need to discuss with your PS.

    Hope it improves!

  • shellylytle
    shellylytle Member Posts: 1

    Hi All, I am trying to decide whether to get the DIEP procedure or implants. Any insights?

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,683

    This is a great question, @shellylytle! If you want any insights in addition to the responses from this thread, feel free to pop into our Bonded by Breast Cancer meet-ups that happen on Fridays at 1pm EST and Mondays at 8pm EST. You can register for them for free here:

    We regularly discuss topics like this, as well as processing the changes to one's identity and other topics in the group. :)

    Warmly,
    The Mods

  • kristinaa
    kristinaa Member Posts: 2

    @shellylytle - I would ask more people for their opinions. Mine did not go well for me. I have a lot of necrosis. I will also tell you though that I don't know what I would've done differently. The idea of not having reconstructive surgery didn't sit easy with me. I knew that I didn't want implants. I realize the risk of cancer from implants is not high, but my luck has been so awful that I don't even want to take the risk.


    I had a great surgeon. I did my research. Sometimes you can do all the "right" things and make the "right & informed" decisions and still not get the results you would've liked to get. That's why I suggest you talk to other women in this community.