DIEP Flap v's FLAT - That is the question...

Hi there,


I am a very confused lady right now - just when I think i’ve made my mind up, I change it again.  I was diagnosed May 2015, and after 8 rounds of chemo, full mx to my right, then 15 rounds of radio I I have now been offered the DIEP flap reconstruction and I’m now on a lengthy waitlist.


Trouble is, if I had had my way, I would have preferred to have mx to my left also.  Imm reconstruction was not an option, so presently, I am flat one-sided.  I do like my flat side, I have a fairly thin scar and to be honest I really like it.  BUT, I do also want to have a new (and dare I say it) perky boob (and because I asked, I have been offerred a smaller reconstructed boob with the option of a balancing op after 6-9months), and of course, a nice flat tummy.


I flick constantly to wanting it to not wanting it - has anyone else felt this way?  I guess what I want to know of those ladies who have had a DIEP (and reading the threads, I see no mention).  

What is the immediate aftermath like? Aneasthesia control, Pain control (in hospital and home), going to the toilet - was this painful!! having a shower - do I need someone to help? and drains? I have read that for the first four weeks you are meant to literally do nothing (can’t lift arms higher than 90 degree in front, 45 degree sideways) etc - how did you find it?  How long did it take to recover?


And any ladies out there that decided NOT  to bother and stay flat one-sided?  Were you ever given the option to have the other breast removed?  Was it an uphill battle to have this done?  Did anyone regret it?


I hope anyone out there is similar to me - I had Inflammatory BC (triple-neg), no node involvement but did have SNB.


Thank you so much




Hi Claire.

i was diagnosed in April 2014 and like you wasn’t a candidate for immediate reconstruction.  I sailed through my mastectomy and had the neatest scar.  I wasn’t keen on being lopsided especially as I had a droopy remaining 34dd boob.  My surgeon wasn’t against doing a bilateral mastectomy but asked that I live asymmetric for a while and balance up all my options.  It was suggested I go to a keeping abreast show and tell evening in East Grinstead to research all reconstruction options.  I flitted from shall I shan’t I for months it eventually went for a TUG reconstruction using my thigh which was a similar recovery time to the DIEP.  I am so happy that I went for the reconstruction and it moved my mindset from thinking about cancer everyday when I put my bra on to grinning like a Cheshire Cat and my new amazing boobie.

At no point was I ever in any pain and only pushed the painkiller pump once so it was removed on day 2.  I managed easily on just paracetamol for a few days.  I was able to shower myself but my husband had to help me dry my back and put my clothes on for 2 days (I did only stay in hospital for 2 days as I was coping so well).  The hardest thing was outing the surgical stocking on and off after showering and I did need help with these for the 3 weeks I needed to wear them.  I did have to have 6 weeks off work and found it hard to do much around the house for about 5 weeks.  

I’m now 5 months on and fully back to normal and will be having my other breast uplifted and reduced to match next month.

hope this helps a little. X

Hi Claire I am 8 weeks post op it is difficult to say as everyone is different and everyone will have a different experience but it is scary when you read about things going wrong. I felt I had no choice after a failed LD and implant so this was my fifth operation. I was very scared beforehand and it was a 9 hour op but I woke up feeling minimal discomfort/pain and then it was controlled by the pca. I spent the first night in HDU to be monitored closely as I had 2 x previous abdo liposuction I was at high risk of flap failure, but it is the norm in most hospitals to stay in HDU for first night anyway and I was very well cared for just don’t expect to get any sleep when they are checking you every 15 minutes. I woke up with drips in foot and hand, a catheter and 4 drains. For me once I got over the anaesthetic which took 3 days and started mobilising i started to feel so much better and it improved day on day once the drips and drains get removed. My op was on the Monday and I got discharged on the Friday and was just on paracetamol and ibuprofen. I was actually back driving after 2 weeks which I know is quite soon but I felt fine. I think the main thing is try not to do too much in the first 2 weeks other than regular mobilising around house and resting in between to give your body chance to heal once all the drains were out after 10 days there was no stopping me. I stopped taking pain killers after 3 weeks and started taking dog out on regular walks which has helped with the flexibility of my abdomen and I also do all the stretching and post op exercises everyday which is a must to prevent long term problems x

Hi claire

i am 3.5 months post db DIEP flap! I had db mx 2.5 years ago and had a series of implants which failed for various reasons. My only hope was the DIEP flap method. It is a big op an you will need some support for the first 3 weeks at least! The hospital get you fairly independent before you go home so you can shower. I was in for 9 day as I had a blood transfusion, so was lucky not to go home with any drains! 

Hope this helps a little with your decision you must do what is right for you! 


I am now 2 weeks post diep flap op and have to say I never thought it would be this painful (I have good tolerance to pain).  I know everyone is different but don’t feel like I’m improving at the moment.  My boob doesnt hurt much but feel like my stomach is going to burst open sometimes.  I was quite slim before the op and surgeon said it would be very tight and boy he wasnt kidding.  I was lucky my drains were removed before I left hospital and I’m taking paracetamol and Ibuprofen but doesnt seem to make much difference. 

Going to the hospital today to get my dressings off and results of lymph node biopsy but my cancer was caught early so think it will be all clear.

Everyone keeps saying ‘oh you will have a lovely flat tummy’ but at this moment in time I’d rather have my belly back and not have this horrible pain. 

Can anyone give me an idea as to when my stomach will start to feel better?? 


Hi Moo I am 9 weeks post op I was also very slim and told that it would be very tight which it was. I found that from 2 weeks as I have a dog I started taking him for small walks and I think this helped a lot if you can manage a small walk every day it helps with the flexibility. I also gently massaged the scar once it had healed as this will help break down scar tissue keep taking pain killers regularly if needed and gentle stretches also helped me. You will find as the weeks go by it will become much easier. Hope it goes well at the hospital X

I am writing this on phone dont know where “bleep” came from I said scar tissue! Predictive text! X

Hello Claire


I didn’t want all the exgtra surgery/recovery time so am flat one side.I wear a prosthesis. I don’t find it a problem.


Hi clare i had diep flap three weeks ago .  i was in monday to friday came home with two Stomach drains which were taken out after three days . three weeks on i can dress myself/ shower/walk for about twenty minutes andhelp make tea .i do a lot of lying around and reading . i have a neat tummy scar all the way across and a scar on my new boob around the nipple. The pain is quite mild every now and then now and i sleep a lot. I have a flat tummy for the first time in my life!!!  I am pleased the cancers gone and its my flesh in my new boob. Just waiting for oncologist now. Good luck with what ever you decide .