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Topic: Recovery time for DIEP surgery??

Forum: Surgery - Before, During, and After — Surgical options and helpful tips for recovery and side effects.

Posted on: Jun 8, 2012 03:36PM, edited Jun 8, 2012 03:37PM by stacyk

stacyk wrote:

I had a bmx with immediate DIEP reconstruction surgery on May 22, 2012. I am home now recovering. Some days I feel great, others I feel like I was run over by a truck (again).

My PS said it would be 8-12 weeks of recovery. Can anyone give me an idea of when I will start feeling better? Better - like being able to take a walk, or to get up out of bed for an hour? or just better in general, without pain meds? I need something to look forward to.

Any info would be appreciated.

Dx 3/16/2012, DCIS, 6cm+, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 05/21/2012 Mastectomy of one or both breasts: Mastectomy of my left breast, Mastectomy of my right breast; Lymph node removal (also called dissection): Sentinel lymph node removal (also called dissection) , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my right side ; Reconstruction of my left breast: DIEP flap; Reconstruction of my right breast: DIEP flap
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Jun 8, 2012 04:03PM dressager wrote:

i'm two days behind you, stacy--i had my DIEP on the 24th. i can tell you that the biggest advance in my "feeling better" scale came yesterday when i got three of my four drains out.

walking also makes me feel better. last week, i was still in significant pain---the drains, getting up and down from the sofa, etc... i was faithfully taking the painkillers they gave me (oxycodone 5mg). the pills took care of the pain but they also knocked me out. some days, i slept for hours. i finally decided to try advil instead. eureka! the pain was well controlled but i started to feel like my old self. ending that cycle of endless sleeping was my first step on the road to normalcy. i can now walk around the block. it's not the fastest pace ever but it makes me feel so much better.

good luck!

Papillary carcinoma dx: 11/11; reexcision & SNB 12/11. BRCA2 VUS. BMx 2/12. Abdominal hyst, bilateral ooph, removal of ovarian mass 3/12. DIEP 5/24/12! Dx 11/19/2011, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 8, 2012 05:28PM glostagirl wrote:

Check out the NOLA in September thread, lots of experienced DIEP ladies posting there.  Many of them say they have a downturn at 3-4 weeks, but then start feeling much better.  

It's important to force yourself to get out of bed and at least walk around your own house or yard, increasing a little everyday.  Eat small, healthy high protein meals or use a high protein meal supplement, like a whey protein shake.  

If still on, get off narcotic pain meds, you will start to fell better!  

Good luck. 

...."We must see all scars as beauty. ....Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived." Chris Cleave, Little Bee Dx 1/5/2008, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 02/21/2008 Lumpectomy in one or both breasts: Lumpectomy in my right breast; Lymph node removal (also called dissection): Sentinel lymph node removal (also called dissection) , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my right side Surgery 03/26/2009 Mastectomy of one or both breasts: Mastectomy of my right breast; Lymph node removal (also called dissection): Sentinel lymph node removal (also called dissection) , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my right side ; Reconstruction of my right breast: IGAP flap Surgery 06/19/2012 Reconstruction of my right breast: DIEP flap Surgery 11/13/2012 Reconstruction of my right breast
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Jun 11, 2012 02:08PM NatsFan wrote:

I had a DIEP and my ps had me walking (just for a few steps) in the hospital before I left.  I walked every day during the 6 weeks I was off work. The first day at home all I managed to do was to walk one house down the sidewalk and back, leaning on DH the whole way, with my 6 drains sticking out!  But I did a little more the next and a little more the next.  I walked all but a few days - in sun, rain, wind, and cold - whatever the weather was.  My ps really pushed walking and she was right.  I did skip a few days, and found that on the days I didn't walk, I was in more pain and didn't sleep as well. 

You may want to talk to your ps - 2 and a half weeks after surgery does seem a bit long for you to still be in bed and not able to walk or even get out of bed for an hour.  Also, as others have said, maybe cut back on the pain pills some if you can.  Even stretching out the interval, so you take them an hour or so farther apart than you are now, may help you "wake up".  

I know you feel like you'll never feel better - I remember that feeling.  But it does get better.  For me, I noticed a marked improvement around the 3 week mark.  Just keep plugging at it.  You will get to your old self back.

Mary Dx 12/31/2007, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 1/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 01/29/2008 Mastectomy of one or both breasts: Mastectomy of my left breast, Mastectomy of my right breast; Lymph node removal (also called dissection): Underarm (axillary) lymph node removal (also called dissection) , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my right side ; Reconstruction of my left breast: Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction of my right breast: Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 03/03/2008 Adriamycin (chemical name: doxorubicin), Cytoxan (chemical name: cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (chemical name: docetaxel) Hormonal Therapy 06/30/2008 Femara (chemical name: letrozole, class: aromatase inhibitor) Surgery 10/08/2008 Reconstruction of my left breast: DIEP flap; Reconstruction of my right breast: DIEP flap
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Jun 12, 2012 11:07AM rtnyc wrote:

stacyk.....my surgery was 4/23 mx/diep flp 10 1/3 hours; 10 days later another 4 to fix up and finalize the flap.  I think I stayed in bed the first 4 weeks day and night, I am at week 6, I am walking about 2 miles or a little more every day; litterally just trying to get out and move. I stilldon't feel like myself at all by nightitme I'm achey like crazy all I can do is lie still in bed, taking xanax to sleep more than I shoud to knock me out so I sleep but I'm not back to myself. I'm still swollen, clothes don't fit except for yoga pants, leggings etc, wear cami's tohold the bandages still; try on my work pants and they don't fit yet; can't even imagine going back to work....Even with all this everyday does seem just a little better; morning is much better than late day evening.  

Dx 2/6/2012, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3 Surgery 04/22/2012 Mastectomy of one or both breasts: Mastectomy of my left breast, Mastectomy of my right breast; Lymph node removal (also called dissection): Sentinel lymph node removal (also called dissection) , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my left side , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my right side ; Reconstruction of my left breast: DIEP flap; Reconstruction of my right breast: DIEP flap Surgery 05/02/2012 Reconstruction of my left breast: DIEP flap; Reconstruction of my right breast: DIEP flap Surgery 10/08/2012 Reconstruction of my left breast: Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction of my right breast: Nipple reconstruction
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Jun 15, 2012 06:26AM iswimibikeirun wrote:

I had my surgery on Monday, 3/19.  I was walking (albeit bent over) beginning on Friday.  I got to drive on the 11th day and was walking 2-4 miles daily starting at 2 weeks.  I never really had any pain until about week 4 when I'd have some shooting pain.  But it was temporary.  Now, I get a bit of numbness/tingling and itchies inside from time to time.  I had no trouble wearing clothes after I got the drains out.  Even snug jeans.  It feels a bit weird when I run, but just for the first half mile or so.  If I keep going, it goes away and the running has helped lessen the weird feeling.  I will say, however, that I still need more sleep than I used.

Dx 1/6/2012, DCIS, 6cm+, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 01/25/2012 Lumpectomy in one or both breasts: Lumpectomy in my left breast Surgery 03/18/2012 Mastectomy of one or both breasts: Mastectomy of my left breast; Lymph node removal (also called dissection): Sentinel lymph node removal (also called dissection) , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my left side ; Prophylactic (also called preventive) mastectomy of one or both breasts : Prophylactic (also called preventive) mastectomy of my right breast ; Reconstruction of my left breast: DIEP flap; Reconstruction of my right breast: DIEP flap
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Jul 4, 2012 07:17PM faithorfearmom wrote:

Hi ladies,

I just had a diep on Tuesday, June 26th. I was released from hospital yesterday. I very much want to start the walking process. How did you do it? I am stooped over like my darling 90 year old nana! I was considering seriously using her walker. I also want to get off the pain meds, the just knock me out. Any suggestions?

Dx 6/11/2010, IDC, <1cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 4/12 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 06/23/2010 Mastectomy of one or both breasts: Mastectomy of my left breast, Mastectomy of my right breast; Lymph node removal (also called dissection): Underarm (axillary) lymph node removal (also called dissection) , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my right side ; Reconstruction of my left breast: DIEP flap, Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction of my right breast: DIEP flap, Tissue expander placement
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Jul 4, 2012 08:27PM cgesq wrote:

I wish all of you a speedy recovery.  Quick question, if I may....

How did you decide on which reconstruction procedure to choose?  I am facing a double mastectomy in the next 2 weeks, and I need to decide what type of reconstruction to do.  The recovery from the diep sounds daunting!!  I realize its a personal decision, but what made you choose that procdure over other options?

Thanks in advance for sharing your thought process! 

Dx 6/14/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 07/24/2012 Mastectomy of one or both breasts: Mastectomy of my left breast, Mastectomy of my right breast; Reconstruction of my left breast: Latissimus dorsi flap, Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction of my right breast: Latissimus dorsi flap, Tissue expander placement Targeted Therapy 09/11/2012 Herceptin (chemical name: trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 09/11/2012 Carboplatin (brand name: Paraplatin), Taxotere (chemical name: docetaxel) Surgery 02/03/2013 Reconstruction of my left breast; Reconstruction of my right breast
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Jul 9, 2012 11:42AM glostagirl wrote:

cgesq.......It's such a personal decision, certainly is not a one size fits all......

First is to find the best surgeons you can and with their help decide for your body type, your cancer treatments and your lifestyle, what the best option is.  

For me, I'm active in skiing, sailing, hiking, walking, body surfing, etc...so I knew I didn't want to sacrifice muscle with any of the autologous procedures (TRAM, LD Flap).  I also knew I didn't want implants, particularly as I'd had radiation prior to mastectomy. 

There are women who know from the get-go that they want immediate reconstruction, if you can do this you'll have the most minimal scars.  I think this also depends on what treatment for the cancer comes next, especially radiation.  I do understand from all the time I've spent on this site, that mastectomy with immediate reconstruction is not available in all areas of the country, as it's a complex procedure and not all surgeons are up to par, this is why those of us experienced ladies stress finding the best surgeons available, that goes for both the general/breast surgeon and plastic surgeon.

Other women find it overwhelming having to make so many decisions in such a short amount of time.   

Delayed reconstructions give the luxury of time, but the scars from the mastectomy are typically more noticeable, unless you can have a nipple/skin sparing procedure with TE's put in place which prevent the skin from shrinking.  

The thought of all the scarring really bothered me when I started this process but has become much less important as time's gone by.  

Hope this helps, good luck  

...."We must see all scars as beauty. ....Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived." Chris Cleave, Little Bee Dx 1/5/2008, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 02/21/2008 Lumpectomy in one or both breasts: Lumpectomy in my right breast; Lymph node removal (also called dissection): Sentinel lymph node removal (also called dissection) , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my right side Surgery 03/26/2009 Mastectomy of one or both breasts: Mastectomy of my right breast; Lymph node removal (also called dissection): Sentinel lymph node removal (also called dissection) , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my right side ; Reconstruction of my right breast: IGAP flap Surgery 06/19/2012 Reconstruction of my right breast: DIEP flap Surgery 11/13/2012 Reconstruction of my right breast
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Jul 9, 2012 05:38PM christina0001 wrote:

cgesq - I am in the same boat, no clue what I want to do for reconstruction. I am not having immediate reconstruction at my onc's recommendation, but honestly I need the extra time to figure it all out. These threads about women's experience with the different types of reconstruction are so helpful.

Surgery 01/10/2012 Lumpectomy in one or both breasts: Lumpectomy in my right breast Dx 1/16/2012, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 02/09/2012 Lymph node removal (also called dissection): Sentinel lymph node removal (also called dissection) , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my right side Targeted Therapy 02/12/2012 Herceptin (chemical name: trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 02/12/2012 Carboplatin (brand name: Paraplatin), Taxotere (chemical name: docetaxel) Surgery 08/09/2012 Mastectomy of one or both breasts: Mastectomy of my right breast Hormonal Therapy 08/23/2012 Radiation Therapy 09/30/2012 Surgery 07/29/2013 Reconstruction of my right breast: DIEP flap
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Jul 13, 2012 06:33PM 2miraclesmom wrote:

cqesq- I had the DIEP flap and what made me choose that was I did not want them touching any of my muscles. I like my abs where they are. I also like all of my back muscles where they are. I am also having small implants put in at the beginning of next year. I didn't have much tummy fat and we knew in the beginning that I would have implants put in as well. I loved walking out of the hospital with breasts, granted they were MUCH smaller than when I went in. Good luck on your dicision! 

Dx 8/18/2011, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 5/22 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Surgery 09/20/2011 Mastectomy of one or both breasts: Mastectomy of my left breast, Mastectomy of my right breast Chemotherapy 10/14/2011 AT: Adriamycin and Taxotere Targeted Therapy 12/17/2011 Herceptin (chemical name: trastuzumab) Radiation Therapy 04/30/2012
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Jul 15, 2012 08:06PM , edited Jul 15, 2012 08:09PM by FightingLikeAGirl

I just finished chemo about a week and a half ago and need to start deciding on which BMX & reconstruction surgery I am going to do.  As I learn more about it I'm warming to the idea of DIEP flap surgery.  I just can't wrap my head around the idea of implants and I hate the thought of them cutting out my muscle.

I have an appt with a PS that specializes in the DIEP flap on Thursday and I'm struggling to find out more info prior to the appointment. 

Anyone feel up to giving me a step by step on the procedure?  When I read about it they make it seem like you go in...they do the procedure and you are finished...then you come back for nipples if you didn't do the nipple sparing.  But I see some of you talk about going for step 2 and step 3...what does it all mean???

Any info would be so appreciated.

Cindy

6 x TCH / 17 total Herceptin / 5 years Tamox - Oncotype 35 Dx 7/20/2007, DCIS, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+ Surgery 08/01/2007 Lumpectomy in one or both breasts: Lumpectomy in my right breast Dx 3/16/2012, DCIS, 2cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Dx 3/16/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 03/21/2012 Lumpectomy in one or both breasts: Lumpectomy in my right breast; Lymph node removal (also called dissection): Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my right side Chemotherapy 05/03/2012 Carboplatin (brand name: Paraplatin), Taxotere (chemical name: docetaxel) Surgery 09/25/2012 Mastectomy of one or both breasts: Mastectomy of my left breast, Mastectomy of my right breast
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Jul 17, 2012 09:47AM Hoya03mom wrote:

Deciding on DIEP....several folks have asked how we decided.  I talked to several friends who had the TE and implants and it seemed like they were in constant pain, months out.  Not bad pain...one said she felt like she had on a too tight underwire bra...but it seemed like there were a lot of problems.  The thought of having the expanders just freaked me out.  I also have an autoimmune disease and worried about the implants and my body responding to foreign object. 

I met with two plastic surgeons both whom specialize in DIEP and decided even though it will be a longer surgery (I am planning on sleeping through it...but I am sure it will be harder on my loved ones!) and a longer recovery time, I will end up with my own body parts.  I have plenty of fat to spare, so they won't need to access back or other body parts.   I spoke with many, many (way too many friends have friends who have had mastectomies) women who have had MX and reconstrution and asked them about their decisions and pros and cons, and in the end decided DIEP was the way to go.  I think the follow up surgeries are to do the nipples, or to straighten out bumpy parts or remove scar tissue.  My PS said initially I would be a bit larger...UGH..I was hoping for perky B....but I think that is due to they want to overfill in case any tissue dies and they have to remove.  He said he can "reduce" during adjustment surgery.  I will be able to give you more info in around 10 days when hopefully I will be up to posting!  Also...felt like the whole tummy tuck thing was a win-win.  Hopefully if all clear I will not need chemo, radiation or hormones.  Also, supposedly DIEP works better if you do end up needing radiation as sometimes it does wacky things with the expanders???

If anyone wants more details of the surgery, PM me and I will provide.

There is also a DIEP 2012 thread that also has lots of information that may help.

Who thought a few months ago we would have to be making such decisions?

Kathy...8 days and counting

Life isn’t about surviving the storm; but how you dance in the rain.   Surgery 04/05/2012 Lumpectomy in one or both breasts: Lumpectomy in my right breast Dx 4/6/2012, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+/PR+ Surgery 05/24/2012 Lumpectomy in one or both breasts: Lumpectomy in my left breast, Lumpectomy in my right breast Dx 5/25/2012, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+/PR+ Surgery 07/24/2012 Mastectomy of one or both breasts: Mastectomy of my left breast, Mastectomy of my right breast; Lymph node removal (also called dissection): Sentinel lymph node removal (also called dissection) , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my left side , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my right side ; Reconstruction of my left breast: DIEP flap; Reconstruction of my right breast: DIEP flap Dx 7/25/2012, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Jul 17, 2012 09:47AM Hoya03mom wrote:

Recovery expectations....

So I have a wedding I REALLY want to go to that is 4 hrs away on August 25th....one month after bilateral mx with diep (or muscle sparing TRAM).  Is there any way that I would be able to go?  I realize I won't be doing the limbo, but would I be able to sit and watch?  Or is it just not realistic?  I am in fairly good shape, and have a good tolerance for pain...didn't use any pain pills with 3 lumpectomies, but just not really sure what to expect.  Going to post this on DIEP thread as well, but if anyone has any thoughts, I would appreciate it.

Kathy....8 days....

Life isn’t about surviving the storm; but how you dance in the rain.   Surgery 04/05/2012 Lumpectomy in one or both breasts: Lumpectomy in my right breast Dx 4/6/2012, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+/PR+ Surgery 05/24/2012 Lumpectomy in one or both breasts: Lumpectomy in my left breast, Lumpectomy in my right breast Dx 5/25/2012, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+/PR+ Surgery 07/24/2012 Mastectomy of one or both breasts: Mastectomy of my left breast, Mastectomy of my right breast; Lymph node removal (also called dissection): Sentinel lymph node removal (also called dissection) , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my left side , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my right side ; Reconstruction of my left breast: DIEP flap; Reconstruction of my right breast: DIEP flap Dx 7/25/2012, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Jul 17, 2012 08:14PM FightingLikeAGirl wrote:

Kathy...you sound so amazing and positive...you must be so happy it is almost behind you. Thanks for all the info...so interested in knowing how the recovery goes after the surgery!  I am going to also check out the DIEP 2012 thread...didn't know about it.

Cindy

6 x TCH / 17 total Herceptin / 5 years Tamox - Oncotype 35 Dx 7/20/2007, DCIS, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+ Surgery 08/01/2007 Lumpectomy in one or both breasts: Lumpectomy in my right breast Dx 3/16/2012, DCIS, 2cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Dx 3/16/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 03/21/2012 Lumpectomy in one or both breasts: Lumpectomy in my right breast; Lymph node removal (also called dissection): Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my right side Chemotherapy 05/03/2012 Carboplatin (brand name: Paraplatin), Taxotere (chemical name: docetaxel) Surgery 09/25/2012 Mastectomy of one or both breasts: Mastectomy of my left breast, Mastectomy of my right breast
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Jul 27, 2012 10:47AM kathinohio wrote:

I had MX left only on November 17th with immediate DIEP.   The day after surgery I was up and walking - not far - just in the hallway of the hospital.  I also made sure to get out of bed and sit in the chair for meals.

I went home on Monday, was off pain meds by Wednesday (they made me itch) and was able to drive after they took the drains out the following Monday.  I went back to work part-time on December 12th.

I think the more you're up and about, the more your abdomen stretches and gets back to normal.  It hurts like the dickens to try and straighten up but walking hunched over was killing my back.

I chose DIEP since I read on here about people having implant problems and not liking them once they were in.  I also had plenty of fat for harvest!

Good luck to everyone considering this surgery!   

Dx 9/22/2011, DCIS, 6cm+, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Aug 15, 2012 08:28PM BirdyRobin wrote:

Hi all, I am have DIEP surgery the 20th of Aug, I am a bit nervous about how I will look and feel afterwards, I am not worried about the pain, I have felt lots of pain in my life. I just want the final results to look......good. Are you all happy with your results.

Robin

Dx 4/15/2011, ILC, 6cm+, Stage IIIB, Grade 3, 4/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 04/15/2011 Mastectomy of one or both breasts: Mastectomy of my left breast, Mastectomy of my right breast; Lymph node removal (also called dissection): Sentinel lymph node removal (also called dissection) , Lymph node removal (also called dissection) on my left side Chemotherapy 05/31/2011 Cytoxan (chemical name: cyclophosphamide), Taxol (chemical name: paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 10/31/2011 Hormonal Therapy 06/19/2012 Femara (chemical name: letrozole, class: aromatase inhibitor) Surgery 08/19/2012 Reconstruction of my left breast: DIEP flap; Reconstruction of my right breast: DIEP flap