Bilateral mastectomy and DIEP


I am meeting with the plastic surgeon on 4th Jan to talk through which reconstruction procedure to have as I am having a Bilateral mastectomy. I have up to 8 lesions/cancers in my left breast, but the right one came back clear on MRI, but I have opted to have both removed. I am 29 and still have many years of worrying ahead if I do not take that risk away now.

I have been looking into the DIEP procedure and wanted to get some views on those that have had it. I am worried that I will not have enough fat/tissue etc in my tummy to create 2 breasts, if this is the case would they consider implants?

I also wondered how long I can expect to be in surgery for if having the bilateral mastectomy and then immediate reconstruction by way of DIEP?

Paula x

Hi Paula

I may be able to help a little. I had mast & Diep in May this year (left hand side). Surgery was 8 hours (standard for mast & recon together - was quoted 10 hrs for bilateral but this depends on what happens during surgery and I’m sure you’ll have some advice soon from someone who’s had bilateral surgery). I was in hospital 9 days some go home at 6-7 days but I was on my own. You need to have a ‘decent amount’ of fat to make this procedure possible so if you’re a slim size 10 or 12, you’ll probably struggle and need to look at an alternative for bilateral.

I won’t ramble on for now but I’d be happy to answer any questions so feel free to PM me if I can help.

Lots of love and all the best for 2010! Cathy x

Thanks Cathy, wow thats a longt old operation hey?! That makes me a little bit nervous in itself being under for that period of time.

How did you find the op on the tummy healing?

Paula x

Hi Paula

Hmmm, I was initially terrified about the thought of such a long op. I’d never been to hospital for anything (bar a sprained ankle!) and was convinced I’d never ‘come out of’ anaesthetic. The reality was that I was very gently ‘put under’ by some very understanding medics who knew I was very scared, at 09:00 and then woke up at 17:20 … it may as well have been a couple of minutes - how wierd is that?! For me the pain management was excellent and I can honestly say that I did not need the morphine and was just taking cocodomol & paracetamols as & when (as I said, that was my experience but I’ve heard good pain management stories from others too). 7 months down the line, I don’t regret for a moment having this operation and am grateful that I still have two breasts. I readily admit that I could not have coped (psychologically) with a DD boob one side and nothing on the other and have every admiration and respect for women who make the decision not to have reconstruction - then again, I’ve spoken to women who have not had reconstruction and they think I’m the one who’s had the harder option! We’re all different at the end of the day and the important end decision is what you are happy to live with. I was also very lucky in that I didn’t need chemo or rads, just tamoxifen, so this also ‘allowed’ the decision for immediate reconstruction.

If I can help with any other questions, no matter how small, feel free! With love. Cathy x