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Topic: One week out from DIEP , would really appreciate your feedback

Forum: Breast Reconstruction —

Talk with others facing decisions about whether or not to have breast reconstruction, and if so, what type and when.

Posted on: Aug 19, 2021 04:23PM

Limonia wrote:

Hi everyone!


Long story short... I had DMX 2017, with TE - and ongoing complications - could not continue with fill because the wounds would not heal properly and then was going into chemo and could not have further delays. Capsulation on left side bc of radiation. Rt side never expanded properly and there were issues. They then thought I was not a good candidate for implants because of how it healed.... then some medical other stuff with PS saying at time of me signing docs for surgery that I needed to take care of other medical issues first (unexpected to hear this). Covid delays, etc... both expanders tore or something, any saline drained around a year ago. All that to say - I had the DIEP last week!!


They were able to use some of my own skin, but it looks like an 'eye' section on foobs (the flap part) and nothing like the 'after' pictures that I see from diep photos.


A couple of questions...how was your healing?

How was your back? because I can't stand straight, I'm constantly bowled over - cannot walk straight, and this is causing non stop acute pain on my back. I'm unable to walk more than 1/2 block without stopping. Not because of the surgical sites, but because my back is so painful. How long does this last? I am finding this part very mentally and physically discouraging :(.


How long did the tightness last for you?

All doctors are different. mine has requested no oils, etc for 3 weeks, or massage. Did any of you use silicone sheets? did it make a difference?

I have low expectation for final cosmetic look (because of patchwork) however right now they look extremely swollen and scars there and belly scars as well. Does the swelling and hardness go down?

Any other advice or experience you are able to share would be much appreciated...


Limonia (Ontario/Canada)




Dx 2/2017, LCIS/DCIS/ILC/IDC, Both breasts, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/26 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Aug 19, 2021 04:43PM Trishyla wrote:

Just a reassurance, Limonia. Everything you've described is totally normal and expected with a DIEP flap. Including and especially the hunched over walk and ugly football shaped skin patches.

The hunched shuffle will slowly get better over the next couple of weeks, but it may be a month or more before you feel completely comfortable standing upright.

The football flaps are how they transplant the abdominal tissue in order to maximize the odds of a successful graft. They are normally fixed during a revision surgery. Mine were. I had a friend, who had paid thousands for breast implants, who talked me into showing mine to her. She was shocked that my breasts looked far better than hers. Once I get my nipple tattoos, you won't be able to tell they're not my original breasts.

Ask your surgeon if it's okay to start gentle stretching. Wall crawls and gentle torso stretches can make all the difference in regaining mobility.

I used both medi-honey and silicone strips on my incisions after they had healed some. Helped alot with minimizing scars.

Good luck with your healing.

Trish

Dx 8/30/2016, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 8/30/2016, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Dx 9/6/2016, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 9/28/2016 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 4/4/2017 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Chemotherapy 8/5/2017 Xeloda (capecitabine)
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Aug 19, 2021 05:52PM abigailj wrote:

Yes, everything Trishyla said. In addition to the hunched over posture, back pain (I used a walker for like 2 weeks), had the football flap things removed at like 2, 2 1/2 weeks, I also had wound healing issues like you wouldn't believe with the abdominal incision opening, had to be cleaned out, which created more tightness like a month after that and all kinds of other things, infections, etc. but here I am 14 months later, haven't even had my supplemental fat grafting to smooth contours yet (just scheduled that for mid-November) and everything apart from minor cosmetic stuff is fine. I did PT to loosen up the fascia/skin, but couldn't start that for a good 5 months after the surgery because of my healing issues. The PT was awesome and did a lot for me, also had a massage PT. The swelling took a few months to totally go down but probably longer for me with all the healing issues. Oh - and I'm sensitive to adhesive - the scar sheets that seemed to work best to minimize scarring are Embrace in my opinion, but I'm really sensitive to the adhesive so had to use the silicone tape which is a heck of lot cheaper but doesn't do as good a job. Anyway, between that and time and despite everything, the infections, etc. I am very pleased with the results. So, please know you will absolutely feel and look better over time, it does take a while and as soon as you are cleared for PT, please do it - it helps so much. Best wishes for rapid healing!

Abigail

Dx 1/2020, ILC/IDC, Both breasts, 2cm, Stage IB, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 6/22/2020 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap, SIEA flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap, SIEA flap
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Aug 24, 2021 04:05PM Limonia wrote:

Thank you so much, I've returned several times to reread your post and take something new each time. I do like the ;footbal; reference better than the 'eyes' that I see. Thank you for the reassurance and recommendations. Is the revision surgery intensive? I'm focusing right now on healing, of course and would not do any surgery at least for a year....

Dx 2/2017, LCIS/DCIS/ILC/IDC, Both breasts, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/26 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Aug 24, 2021 04:08PM Limonia wrote:

Thank you Abagail, your post really touched me and made me feel like there is hope. I totally could have used a rocker! I also really relate because although the incision healing seems to be going ok right now, for my DBX and TE, it would not heal and took 11 weeks to fully close. I can already tell there are areas that seem a little off (aside from the swelling) but have my follow up tomorrow and will ask. thank you also for normalizing that it can take months for swelling to go down. my left side continued swelling for 10 days and has now stopped. phew. it will take a good while...

Dx 2/2017, LCIS/DCIS/ILC/IDC, Both breasts, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/26 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Aug 28, 2021 09:32AM Biessy wrote:

Thank you to all for your experiences! If I decide to move forward with the surgery with a new PS, there may still be hope for me.

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Aug 28, 2021 01:30PM MZ1969 wrote:

Everything everyone said is true, it gets better and you will be back to a new normal that isn't bad at all. I had my DIEP in early April. I cried every day for two weeks because of pain and discomfort. By end of June I was swimming in the ocean in a bikini.

My PS gave me the summer off and I'm seeing him after Labor Day to discuss corrections. My reconstructed breast looks great with clothes on and even with a bikini top but bare it needs some work and has that football scarring. I look forward to discussing next steps with my surgeon and getting a tattoo after corrections.

I had a skin rash from the silicone strips so I stopped using them. the scar is much better but still very much there. Gladly high bikini bottoms are in vogue. I had physical therapy for 6 weeks to work on scar tissue in my armpit post mastectomy and lymph node removal, I could barely lift my arm. As I said I was swimming by end of June. There is lingering tightness in the area but I can do everything even hold a plank for a bit.

I think in the midst of physical pain post surgery it is very hard to see or imagine beyond it and it feels like the pain will be forever. it won't.

Dx 5/18/2018, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH) Radiation Therapy 8/21/2018 Whole-breast: Breast Surgery 4/5/2021 Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap
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13 hours ago Limonia wrote:

Thank you so much for your insights and words of encouragement - they made a big difference

Dx 2/2017, LCIS/DCIS/ILC/IDC, Both breasts, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/26 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-

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