6 weeks post DIEP

I had a very successful DIEP recon 6 weeks ago. Had a slight hitch with an internal infection which put me back in hospital 2 weeks later, but everything has been fine since then. Went back for my 6 week check up yesterday, but the registrar that saw me was in such a hurry, I didn’t get a chance to ask any questions. She almost forgot to check my tummy scar! I don’t think she was with me longer than 3 minutes.
Anyway, I was hoping someone here could answer some questions for me. All my scars are now uncovered, after 6 weeks of being taped up. I understand I now need to massage them with E45 lotion twice a day…but how long for? Forever?
Is it now safe for me to go swimming and use a hydrotherapy pool? I’m a member of a lovely health club but have steered clear since the op.
Is it alright to stop wearing the support bra and knickers 24/7 now? If not, how much longer?
I’m going shopping for some new bras on Monday, and will obviously be getting a proper bra fitting. How do you compensate for two completely different sized and shaped boobs? I’m between a C and D cup, I think, but at 50, my real boob is obviously quite different to the new one. What type of bra works best to keep things looking even? Can you get pads to fill out a cup if one boob doesn’t fill it fully?
I was given an appointment to go back in March to arrange to have my old boob lifted, and was told I could have nipple reconstruction at the same time. Can anyone advise on how long this op takes? Do you stay in hospital? And is there a significant recovery time or is it just a few days?
That’s all I can think of right now. Just wish I had the chance to ask questions yesterday!



Congratulations on getting through your surgery and the post-op period. I can’t answer all your questions but I can tell you I’ve had success with M&S’s non-wired full cup t-shirt bras - there is a two pack for £16. Very comfortable and they look nice. I’ve not had a diep and am only a B cup but my implant recon and real boob are obviously quite different but these bras house both pretty well. 


Good luck.


Ruth xx



 Hi SJB.  Congrats on your successful surgery.


I had my DIEP recon in May (5 months ago).  Both my plastic surgeon and breast surgeon (I had my mastectomy at the same time as the DIEP) were adamant I should not go swimming (or carry out any other fitness exercise other than walking) for 3 months from end of surgery.


The info material I was given at the hospital after my surgery advises us to keep wearing the support knickers (all day, well actually 23hrs/day) for 6-8 weeks after surgery -  I must say, I still wear mine during the day now,  because I got used to them and now feel naked if I don’t wear them!


Same timescale for the bra.   Not sure what you mean by a support bra - I was told to stop wearing underwired bras and use non-wired non-padded 23hrs/day for 6-8 weeks after the surgery.  


I do presently have two boobs of different size (only by about 1 cup, from what I can see).  I did buy little gel pads at M&S to stick in with the smaller boob, but to be honest I don’t bother using one, as the slightly looser fabric on the cup of the bra is only visible to me, but to nobody else, especially when I am dressed.  I do make sure my bra straps are done up well though, so I am still getting the support I need on that side and the two boobs are at the same level (the new boob is much perkier than the old boob!)


As for the E45, like you I apply it twice a day - my personal understanding is that I should continue to do so until my scar has faded, I have no idea how long this will take.  (Sometimes I vary the routine and use Bio-oil or Palmer’s Skin Therapy Oil instead.)


I can’t answer your questions about nipple reconstruction, as I am myself waiting to have this carried out, as well as a lift and reduction on the old boob.  


Good to hear you’re on the road to recovery. I asked about swimming when I had my op. in 2014, and was advised to avoid chlorinated water for a few months as this can irritate and dry-out the skin (where you’re meant to be massaging the E45) but swimming in the sea helps the healing process.  Regarding bras, I’m odd sizes too, and I tried underwired padded ones but they seemed to rub in all the wrong places. Have since found M&S post-surgery bras excellent and they are VAT-free. You can buy “boosters” in Primark which may be enough to even you out, but the ones made by Amoena are much better, and the hospital provided me with one to even me out,  which they measured me for, and it feels more natural when worn in the pocket of the post-surgery bra. Haven’t been brave enough to go back for a “tidy-up” and nipple recon yet though.

How each person’s journey differs. My recon was over 2 years after my cancer treatment, and it was at a different hospital, so I have had no contact with my original consultant or any breast care nurses. The plastic surgeon my consultant referred me to saw me a few times before the op to discuss it, but on the day, he wasn’t there, and a registrar I had never met before performed the operation. I had less than 5 minutes to discuss it with him before I was anaesthetised. I never saw him again and don’t even know his full name. The registrar I saw yesterday had never met me before and walked into the consultation room unaware of which type of recon I’d even had. I had to tell her. A nurse asked me to change into a hospital gown before she arrived, then another came in after she’d left to stick a piece of tape on my wound where the infection had been. Neither were breast care nurses, so no-one was able to answer any questions. I never even saw a physio after my op. A nurse just brought me a leaflet about when to move on to which exercises.
My health club only has saline water in its pools, so I guess I can use them. The bras I have been wearing were firm support “sports bras” with a wide band under the boobs. Very uncomfortable at night, but I was told that was what I had to wear. I was told after my op that after 6 weeks I could get measured got new bras, so I assumed I didn’t need to wear bras at night any more. All I have to go on is the leaflets I was given after the op.
It’s fair to say I’m a little confused at this point. I was given so much support and avice after my mastectomy and during all my treatment, but I feel very abandoned right now.