my tram op went well - but stomach feels too tight - am a bit worried

hello - I had my mastectomy and immediate recon on Monday ( ELEVEN HOURS of surgery) and came out of hospital yesterday. My worry is that when I stand up I cant get completely straight because it feels as if my stomach with split - it is SO tight… can you confirm that this is ok and normal or not… I really REALLY cant face more surgery but this feels really strange

Hi Jenny

I think this is normal - your tummy gets incredibly stretched when they take the flap and there’s quite a bit of work making sure the muscles and skin/fat stick down again in their new place.

I felt strange for a few months after the op (diep), but recently things seem so much better - you’re less than a week down the road and I think I’d only just had my drains out at that stage, so you’re doing really well.

Lizzie xx

ah thanks Fizzie - am so worried i would have to go back… I manage to stand almost upright but dont feel I can puff my chest out and push my shoulders back, if you know what I mean. the ‘flap’ ( not a nice way to refer to the new breast, is it ?!) seems double the size of the OK one - but thats normal apparently… it will calm down. Its all still under dressing so its hard to tell whats going on there…
I am completely wiped out from the op , but am starting to worry about this tight tummy thing…

hi jenny,i had the same surgery,you must have had a better surgeon…ha ha.mine took 12 hours.Yes,this is completely normal,I went for a job interview at 9 weeks post op and remember just feeling like i could stand straight then.Its just over 12 months now and its not tight,but a little uncomfy still when i try to wear jeans etc.There r other people on here that seem to have recovered quicker than me,but i feel ‘almost’ great now,left boob is a little uncomfy but i think this may be due to having lymph nodes removed.Just a quick reminder,at initial dx I had left mastectomy and lived a year like that(one boob) hated it.And a year ago had mastectomy on the right and recon at same time.I dont regret having it done ,I like having two boobs.The op wiped me out too and i really feel for you at this time but i am sure you will think it was all worth it. x x

I had tram flap recon dec 07, I remember walking slightly bent over and slowly at 13 days check up, cons was rather impressed with me walking in unaided however it took another good week or 2 to feel I could straighten and walk with more confidence.

Was able to get out and back to my good walks of around 5 miles after about 5 weeks, driving at 8 weeks and back at work 9 weeks, areobics took around 4 months, my tummy still sometimes gets that tight feeling especially exercising and swimming.

Mine is bigger too, am booked in for lippo and nipple this Wednesday, hopefully that will be it and they will match perfectly, however like debbi feel it was totally worth it, I had to wait nearly 2 years for recon and hated living with 1 boob, it was so good to get my cleavage back and wear a dress for my 40th this year.

Take care and dont straighten too soon, only when it feels comfortable.


I had my tram 10 days ago. My stomach feels very tight. Walking is ok if I dont overdo it and I am bent over. So now my back is sore, but I am feeling better each day, Im keeping taking pain killers regardless at the moment just to be on the safe side. My aim is to get driving at week 4 but I wont push it. Hoping to work in some capacity after 8 weks.

Take care
Louise xx

Hi, I had my tram 14 days ago. Like Louise I can walk but only if slightly bent which plays havoc with my back. I did get a shock at how much the long op wiped me out, but feel I am getting stronger each day. Hope to drive in another week as no buses where I live. Having waited nearly two years I am delighted to have cleavage back and can’t wait to hit the shops when I am feeling stronger.

Take care of yourselves, Maggie

I had my mx and immediate tram flap recon nearly 7 weeks ago and my tummy still feels like a tightly stretched drum but is getting better. My recon boob is still hard but I have been told it will improve. I found a good way to stretch the underarm ligaments/ muscles was to let the hot shower hit them (protect any scars with your other hand) and gently stretch the arm up the shower wall and down about 10 times. Within 5 weeks I had complete movement again with only slight tightness under arm. I was driving at 5 weeks and that makes you feel a lot less stir crazy. I go back next week on Tues to see the PS and hope to be told some stomach exercises - wasn’t really given much advice in hospital - anyone got any good ideas? I am still uncomfy at night although in last week have been able to lie on side for short times - need to cuddle a pillow to stop insides falling out! Louise were you in St John’s?
Take care everyone - it gets better

thanks so much for all your comments - its so reassuring to know Im not the only one with my tight abdomen - I can’t envisage ever being able to stand up straight and walking normally… Im impatient! I know its only 8 days since my op but sitting around isnt me! But doesnt it wipe you out!!! I cant believe how tired I am all the time and how emotional I still am … I was a right state before the op which I can understand but even since the op Im in tears feeling ridiculously sorry for myself and all out of sorts… anyone else feel like this too?
I am hoping my stomach wont ping open if I try to straighten up - so will continue walking around with a slight stoop :frowning:

Hi sunflower hope you are well. Yes I was in St Johns, Thought the staff were pretty good but after the breast unit at the Western it was very differerent having blokes in who had basically been out fighting and needed patching up. Was back having my dressings looked at today. They have now put on some more heavy duty ones on other than the steri strips.
My tummy is very tight an Im scared to cough in case something pops. Feeling pretty knackred now all that walking fromthe car to the out patients has done me in.
Im emotionally fine, Ive never been one to dwell on my appearance and how I look etc ( is that how other people are affected emotionally) Anyway feeling better each day.
Take car everyone

Louise xxx

Hi everyone, day 15 and I’ve just been to dressing clinic. They took off the steri strips and everything healing nicely. Dressings put back on so no bath or shower for another week. Yuk! Nurse says OK to straighten up now and must say stomach feels less tight since steri strips removed.

Is everyone wearing the wrap around corset thing? It does help to give you the feeling that you are held together. Told must wear it 24/7 for a further four weeks.

Louise, I have been coughing intermittently since day five but find if I hold myself its OK. Doesn’t seems to have affected the healing.

Look after yourselves, Maggie

I was never given or told to wear a corset so I’ve just been wearing big sloggi pants - I don’t feel like I have enough support though. I found a very good research article by a physio with some exercises for post op tram flaps. Worth a look if you are interested:
FindArticles - Abdominal-wall recovery following TRAM flap surgery
Rehabilitation Oncology, 2003, by Kozempel, Jeannie,
Dell, Deena Damsky
Louise I assume you had C. R.? I thought he was great. The staff at St J were great but I was really terrified in the ITU the first night. I also missed having anyone else with a similar problem to talk to. At least in the WGU everyone has a variation of the same problem. Looking fwd to hearing when I get my tittoo!

That link doesn’t connect automatically - try copying and pasting

I was given a corset thing - but they told me if I wore ‘Bridget Jones’ suck it all in pants that would be ok - and I must say they are far more comfortable - as the corset thing rolled up all the time and caught on the belly button and drain sites at the base of my stomach. I am due at dressing clinic on Thursday - worried about having the strips peeled off - am sure thats going to hurt … am fed up with pain and hospitals now and just wish it would all STOP!!!
I dont really know why I am emotional still - its not so much about my appearance as im sure this is all going to look fine afterwards - I think its just the emotion of it all… if you know what I mean!!

Jennie, I had my steri strips removed today and honestly, I didn’t feel a thing, just relief. Pulling the sticky dressing off around the pubic area where my drains had been situated stung a bit!

It’s understandable you are fed up with hospitals, I guess we all are - but where would we have been without them?

There were three of us in the HDU together, at slightly different stages, and we all had a weepy day. This whole dx and endless treatment is bound to affect us emotionally and you are not alone.

Take care, Maggie

I had my dressings changed yesterday. they have repaced the steri strips with something a bit more heavy duty. It was all a little bit red.
Sunflower I was told by CR tear sports bras for 6 weeks day and night ( got a few bargains in TKMaxx) A nurse also suggested big pants but I think that is to help keep dressings in place.
Having the dressings taken off is not really sore, but agreed a bit nippy round the hairline. For me this is the end of the treatment road hopefully, I have been through ll the chemo and rads.
Sunflower I get the impression you are in the Edinburgh area, theres a few of us meet up every few weeks. PM me or check out the thread on younger women in Edinburgh if youare interested. We all go out and have a laugh.
Take care everyone

Louise xxx

Hi Jenny, glad to hear op went well. When i had my op 3 months ago was told that I wouldn’t be able to stand upright fully for 6 weeks and not to try because it put too much strain on healing muscles… The muscles have been tightened and need time to stretch out again, so don’t rush it. Had to sleep with pillow under my knees for about 6 weeks and can now get out of bed withour rolling on to my side first. Remember, the surgery was pretty big, so give your body time to heal and don’t be in a hurry! You’ll get there. :slight_smile:


Hi jenny, i ahd the TRAM immediate recon. It is ‘major surgery’. I had mine a year ago. I felt very ‘fragile’ for about 5-6 weeks after it. and incredibly tired. you must rest and take it easy.
I was told by my breast care nurse that i couldnt iron,load washing machine, empty dishwasher, lift, drive move anything heavy for 6 weeks. Your car insurance is not valid if you were to drive before the six weeks…so be aware of that!!
As for the horrible underwear…yep you must wear a heavy duty knicker…18 hour girdle bit difficult to find…department stores are the best. This is not to hold your stitches but to hold the muscle in place as it knits together, .
my tummy still feels tight now, but nothing like it first does and reaching up is a bit hard. You will get very tired from walking about even short distances. You are not wonder woman and there is no prizes for pushing yourself too hard.
As you say you will feel emotional, the length of time you were under anaesthsetic doesnt help. the way i felt was like day three after my babies were born…i just kept crying…didnt really know why but I did.
I think it is a mixture of relief that the op is over, frustration that you can not do much, boredom as you are restricted to what you can do or where you can go. Uncomfortableness due to the tight knickers, bra and not being able to bathe. (warning…when you have the first bath, you will find it hard getting in and out maybe… you use those tummy muscles so much more than you think). Make sure someone is around incase of getting stuck!!! and acute tiredness.
I imagine you were kept at the awful 40* temperature in hospital, that was just horrendous.
Are you getting night sweats/flushes?? I had them after my op.
Do you have the fluid around your tummy/ wound site. I had to have that syringed off, that is not pleasant.
I have to say that the treatment I received at Addenbrookes was fantastic, Mr I’s plastic surgery team were fantastic. I had no pain on coming out of the 13 hour surgery, and they got me out of bed the following day. which i thought was a bit scary…even though it was just to get me into bedside chair. They like to get you mobile because of DVT risk of laying still. And getting the catheter out was a relief.
It is weird and i do feel for you, its like you are thinking ‘will i ever feel ok again!’. You will though.
Did you have lymph nodes removed? I had the lot taken away from armpit. that is still numb, weird to shave it.
And yes it is still 3 cup sizes bigger than other, am having lipo and my ‘dog ears’ on tummy operated on in new year sometime.
keep going, keep wearing the ghastly underwear, it is important that you do…
hugs and best wishes to you and your family

Just wondering how everyone is doing, are we all healing nicely. My wounds are finally healing and one more trip to nurse should do it. I am 7 weeks post op. Going back to St Johns on 25th to see CM my ps.
Stomach feels tight still a bit but going to start driving this week. Ned to get back to work as I am on SSP and totally skint
Louise xx

Hi Louise, I am 8 weeks post op and have just about healed. I say just about because at the 6 and 7 week stage I had small leaks from both tummy and flap scars, but fortunately these dried up by next day. My stomach still feels a little tight and I have to be careful of my flap when I turn over in bed as it can hurt a bit. I went back to work for two weeks and then retired! (my 65 birthday).

I see my ps on 26th but haven’t decided whether to bother with new nipple yet.


I love wearing my clothes and bathers now - a flat tummy and some cleavage makes all the difference.