Flap reconstruction and tennis

I am hoping to have a flap reconstruction on my right breast in June following a mastectomy, chemo and radiotherapy last year. The surgeon said that it may affect my ability to play tennis. Is this true. Has anyone who has had a reconstruction and reads this also plays tennis? Has it affected your game?
Look forward to hearing from you and thanks

Hi I have had recon 2 yrs ago, i could not play tennis with or without recon due to the lack of movement, however i do think if your heart is in tennis then you will play
take care and good luck

Hi There

It sounds like you are having a LD flap? I’ve got one of those and it has seriously compromised my arm and shoulder movement - though part of that could be down to node op. The recon itself twitches and jumps so I can’t swim , carry shopping, push myself up from the bath, raise my arm above my head, ski or play tennis.

If you are sporty it may be worth mentioning to the surgeon as he may be able to think of another solution. I deeply regret the LD flap and have recently been told by another surgeon that they do not consider it that good an option for “sporty or active” women.

Best of luck

Jane x

I had my first LD flap (right hand side, and I am right-handed) late 2008 and was back on court 6 weeks later with absolutely no loss of strength or movement - even serving and backhand, which I was warned may be compromised by the op (I hadn’t had any lymph node involvement, I should add).

And just 3 weeks after that op, I was back on my yoga mat with a full range of movement.

I was so absolutely thrilled with the result on the right-hand side that on 24th November, I had an LD flap to the left-hand side in an attempt to achieve better symmetry (which it did), and on New Year’s Day I was back on the tennis court and my ball toss (left-hand) side was not affected in any way at all.

All I can say is that the LD flap worked for me (twice), but other people may not have this good experience.

Eight weeks after the last op, I feel totally as if nothing had ever happened to me physically.

All I would say is that I am very fit any way, and I totally believed that surgery would not make any difference to either my yoga or tennis.

Good luck.


Bubs, that’s great to hear your LD flap went so well. Jane, I’m sorry yours sounds difficult. Would you both (and anyone else with experience of it) mind telling us more about it?

I have DCIS and (after surgical biopsy and WLE) have been recommended a mastectomy, though have elected to have a second lumpectomy (going in next week), as I just couldn’t face it (I’d rather have a squashy, funny looking breast (so what else is new??) that still has feeling, than lose it altogether). However, I know there’s a pretty good chance that I won’t get clear margins, and then I will have to face up to the MX. If that is the case I think it’s all going to kick off pretty swiftly, so I’m trying to do my research now, so I can be prepared for the worst.

I have seen from the reconstruction photos my nurse showed me that LD flap gets far better results than silicone alone, but the prospect worries me greatly. I am quite active. I do yoga and play netball every week. I also like to swim and go hiking.

However, I also have had (nondescript, ill-defined) problems with my back on and off since I was about 20 (now 36), and for the past year have had the most ridiculously stiff neck. Go for physio twice a week where I get pummelled, do exercises myself, but is still not loosening it. It has been worse for a couple of weeks after each round of surgery because I haven’t been able to keep up with my usual exercise (and also, I’m sure, because of the stress).

The thought of damaging my back further terrifies me. But I’m relatively young, in a newish relationship, and I am concerned with how my replacement breast will look (not in a bra!) Any info anyone can give me about their experiences (good and bad) would help me make an informed decision.

Thanks everyone

Hi Emma

Well, mine would not stand the looks reasonable in the nude test! For a start even i can’t look at it without feeling distressed.

Appearance:It’s squarish and quite baggy under the arm, like a roll of loose skin. There is a circular patch of contrastingly coloured skin from the back patch where the nipple used to be, framed in a pink ring. I have no idea when scars are supposed to fade but this is still very pink. The circle is felt as a depression in the rest of the mound, the mound itself is lower (below the natural crease)and larger than my remaining breast. I find the loss of a nipple so distressing - it adds so much to the freaky appearance but to put a faux nipple on this would be like polishing a t%%%. For a start the nipple position is twisted and the faux nipple would not be in the pink ring area.

The breast skin is still scaly and dry, I can no longer be bothered with the uncomfortable task of touching it to moisturise so it’s actually peeling at present. There are lots of dents in the “mound” where the muscle is stretched over the implant and (I think) it is peeping through. It is wrinkled like an elephant’s trunk in parts.

Weight - must wear a supportive bra at all times as it aches and drags.

Actual skin sensation: It does not have any pleasant sensation - there is sensation but it feels similar to when you have a “dead” hand. Try sitting on your hand till it goes dead then touch it with the other hand. Yep, that’s the feeling! It also aches and has a sensation of pressure on the inside, as if it is trying to push through the skin.

Back: My lower back is twisted and it looks horrible. It’s also lumpy from where the seroma was - this has settled into a odd little hard lump about the size of an egg.

The back scar is almost 11 inches long going from my spine to under my arm. It has unpleasant sensation and feels tight. It get irritated in a bra and the skin is often sore. Can’t massage it as it is a horrible sensation to have it touched. There is a horrible little fold which looks like a flap of fat on the back overhanging the scar - think this is where the back shortened.

Despite all this my surgeon maintained I’d had an excellent result so I have no faith in them. I either think he has low standards and thinks any c is good enough or lacks ability.

In any case i would not do it again. With hindsight I would fight to keep my mis-shapen boob and seek a plastic surgeon privately to tidy it up.

wishing you luck


Jane x

Hi there,

I had right ld with implant 3 half months ago. Three and a half years ago i had mastect with lymph node clearance.
It is a very big decision to make, but for me, as i am slim, it was the only option they recommended. I would say do your homework and let an oncoplastic surgeon do the job, not a general surgeon.
My arm movements are getting better all the time and i have just started back swimming gently (never played tennis). I have not yet gone back to jiving, but did do about 4 mths after mastect.

Good luck,
Rosie x


thanks for the extra info. Jane, that sounds awful. I’m so sorry. I’ve read a lot of other posts on this subject lately, and although there are many good ones (like bubs’), the bad ones just terrify me. The prospect of losing a breast is bad enough, I’m not sure I could cope with added back problems.

btw, Fatkin, I’m sorry, I didn’t intend to take over your post! I just thought your question was sufficiently close to what I wanted to ask that it would be better to have all the discussion in one place. I hope all this info is useful to you too :slight_smile:


Hi. I had a bilateral LD flap reconstruction 3 months ago. (DCIS twice on one side and decided to go for a prophylactic mastectomy on the other side and double recon) It was a very big decision, mainly because I was worried about how it would feel afterwards and if it would leave me less able to lift, do sport etc after reading lots of posts on this forum.
I have to say I am very pleased with the aesthetic appearance. It all looks and feels quite natural and the scars back and front are already just fine red lines, which will fade. (It was a general surgeon that did it too).
I still feel a bit uncomfortable under my arms but I can already do everything I want to such as lift bags, push up from a chair or the bath, drive etc I haven’t tried swimming yet but have spoken to another lady who has and she says it’s no problem. The surgeon said he had done this op on a lady who was a pro golfer and she got back to the same level of play, so tennis should be similar.
Good Luck

My thoughts on this should be well known.

I would NOT do this to an animal so I do not understand why someone actually told me “I’m know what I’m talking about, I’ve done 200 of these operations”. To me that means there are another 200 women out there who were left like me and told “go and focus on other things”. And they probably went home thinking “well that’s it then” because people generally do what they are told when a surgeon is doing the telling.

If there is ANY other option to take then take it because it will NOT have the risk of disabling you as much as this.

I was due to have LD flap this month but have postponed - maybe for a few months, maybe forever. I don’t know.
I hear such conflicting reports on this - when it goes wrong it seems to go very wrong. For those women who have had good results it is very persuasive.

I think there may be a difference of perception depending on whether recon is immediate or delayed - maybe for those of us who have lived with no boob at all then the opportunity of having anything there is better than nothing? And damn I hate the prosthesis. But I don’t like the idea of potentially damaging one part of my body (that is currently healthy) simply to cobble together a boob. I am having enough problems with cording etc following axillary clearance and am scared of creating more discomfort and weakness.

Incidentally I discovered that my NHS plastic surgeon is a very well known cosmetic surgeon. I find it extremely hard to relate to a woman who makes money by slashing open the breasts of healthy young women and shoving implants in. I hate the whole cosmetic surgery industry and as such I am very conflicted about this issue.

I don’t play Tennis but I do play badminton and did so within a couple of weeks of my LD reconstruction. Certain moves are still a little uncomfortable three years later but I can still hit the shuttle to the back of the court. I swim, go to the gym and do aquarobics.

I actually find that the more I do the more comfortable my back and new breast are. If I rest for a couple of weeks like I did over Christmas, I find returning to sport hard but then so do some of my friends who haven’t had surgery.

I think determination plays a great part in my recovery, I wanted to get back to being myself.

I love the way I now look as I was devestated at loosing my breast.

My surgeon is convinced that all my activities will help with the swelling under my arm etc.

Dear Fatkin and Emma

I had an LD reconstruction a few weeks ago, and have now regained almost all the movement in my arm. I have not yet tried my usual aerobics class, but I feel ready to start getting back to that now.

Esthetically I am very pleased. Although I can’t help being sad that there is no feeling in my new breast, it looks almost exactly like the healthy one except without a nipple.

My hunch is that choosing a good surgeon may be more important than choosing the type of reconstruction. I know I was greatly reassured both by comments of people treated by my plastic surgeon (some came from this forum) and the photos of some of his results.

Best of luck with your decision