How do I prepare physically AND emotionally for DIEP reconstruction??

Hi everybody, I am 10 days away from the biggest operation of my life- mastectomy followed by DIEP reconstruction. I was given the date 6 weeks ago and so far have kept fairly positive, calm and busy. However I can feel that I am beginning to wobble. Any advice please. I am still to complete my choice of post operation underwear and nightwear. What a nightmare. I have 40C at present and have been told to go up to 42- not easy. Other than that am collecting bits and bobs to take in. However really getting anxious about hospital stay and immediate post op recovery. I am quite genned up on what to expect but how can I keep calm. Any suggestions? Thank you ladies in advance. Lilymole

Hi lilymole - I had a mastectomy and immediate diep mid August and it seems a life time ago now! But I just wanted to drop by and wish you the best of luck. Wobbles are to be expected and normal, I had plenty! The thought of getting the cancer out kept me going and I just looked at the diep as a bonus. Obviously it’s major surgery and I would advise you to accept all offers of help and support as you will need a good few weeks to recover. Overall I’ve made a good recovery and have no regrets. I was in hospital for about six days and had the most amazing care. I did need to go back for a small skin graft but that’s all healed now. My stomach still feels tight and the chemo does make my scars hurt which I’ve been told is normal. But the main thing for me is the amazing result. I am having a reduction on the opposite side, but right now and relatively soon after surgery I have two breasts and a very natural looking cleavage and that makes it all worthwhile. Good luck with your surgery and stay strong xxx

Hi Lilymole
Please feel free to call our helpliners for practical and emotional support during the build up to your surgery, they are on hand weekdays 9-5 and Sat 10-2 on 0808 800 6000
Here’s the BCC reconstruction information in case you haven’t seen it:

Take care
Lucy BCC

Hi there,
I am 7 weeks post op from mastectomy and DIEP. It was a rocky road at times but I wouldn’t change my choice of reconstruction, as it looks so natural, even without a nipple, which will be done at a later date.
Bras are a nightmare really, I went from a 36c to a 40c, I was just so swollen, buy extenders too as they help, and don’t buy expensive bras, they get ruined, matalan do sports bras at £4 each. Some surgeons insist you wear a binder, mine didn’t. Buy comfy knickers, without lace, as this may irritate your scar. Front opening nightdress, as lightweight as possible, you will be so hot because of the heated blanket, buy natural fibres, Marks and Spencer’s do good ones, you won’t want to wear them again as you get better,so again buy cheaper ones.
My advice to you is take small steps in your recovery, every second you will feel stronger, don’t rush it and do your exercises given by your physio.
I suffered from a lot of swelling in my belly and under my arm, eased by wearing very loose fitting clothes and by resting, remember your body swells up to protect. I left mine and it caused an infection in my belly scar, I have just spent a week back in hospital on antibiotics, sometimes seromas have to be drained, luckily by body absorbed mine.
I start my chemo at 2pm today, it was put back a week due to infection.
I wish you well, if you need any more info let me know x
Sara x

I had this surgery in July and already it seems so far away now.  I’m not as ‘well endowed’ but prepared by spending too much money on sports bras which turned out to be a waste of money.  Because you are so swollen around your back and under bra strap they dig in and were really uncomfortable.  Plus because they’re new they’re a bit stiff which also doesn’t help. I ended up buying one of those stretchy all in one bras - out of Asda for £4 and it was the best buy - they come in small, medium and large and although a bit sore to lift your arms to get it on it’s worth it.


The swelling and bruising are a bit of a fright.  I was swollen from my armpits down to the tops of my legs- but within two weeks the swelling was pretty much gone.


I also wondered what to wear for hospital (being like Marilyn Monroe and only wearing perfume to bed usually).  Best buys for me were stretchy knee length leggings (which don’t look great with surgical stockings on) and pyjama bottoms.  On top I bought a couple of stretchy vest tops from M&S which were cheap.  The new lightweight dressing gown was also a waste of money as I haven’t worn it.


You will be kept really warm after surgery to ensure the blood vessels are dilated so you won’t need much to wear. I didn’t wear a bra until the day I was discharged  - they like to be able to continually assess the transplanted area of the new boob to ensure it hasn’t ‘died’!!


I think the thought of it all is worse that the reality.  I was gobsmacked at how easy the ‘tummy tuck’ bit was and was back driving after 3 weeks.  You get through it - you really do.  As every half day passes your body will have made significant progress. 


All the best - any more questions - just ask. xx

Hi gill .good luck for your surgery .you will be fine .it’s 6 weeks since my diep.,it’s the best decision I made .the boob has gone down not swollen anymore.if feels and looks same as the remaining abdomen scar healing really well.put e45 on it mentioned about knickers ,if you can get compression ones then that’s great ,if not ones with Lycra as long as they are full knickers as you need them to come up above your new sited navel.also very important tip ,as soon as you are up out of bed ,keep standing up and having little walks and straightening up .I did this at least 20 times a day in hospital,yes it pulls a little but just while you are getting up and down.the more you move around the quicker your recovery.

Hi, Im due to have a bilateral DIEP in January and was wondering if anyone has found a riser-recliner chair to be helpful- my husband has suggested buying one for me. This is a delayed reconstruction so I will be glad to look normal again. I have actually completely forgotten that “normal” people have nipples- wonder what it will be like when I eventually get that done too!!