Recovery after diep flap reconstruction

Hi guys I’ve not really used this forum but I am looking for some support. My background is, diagnosis in August 2015 and started chemo in sept 2015, mx in January 2016 followed by radiotherapy in March.  

I have just had a diep flap reconstruction and the pain is incredible.  I know I only had it on 9th November and the results are fantastic but I would like to know how to best look after my scars and how long recovery has been for other people.

i know it’s early days but I sometimes ask why did I do this, I feel as if the skin on my stomach is about to split across the middle. I had only just recovered from the mx and now feel 100 steps backwards. 

I am discharged with no morphine and feel my body has now gone into shock.


i would love to hear your advice and hear how well people are after this op…




Hi Helen. If you’re in pain you should get some stronger pain relief as your surgical team wouldn’t want you to be suffering. It is very early days so please be gentle on yourself and allow time to heal. I’m 6 weeks post TUG reconstruction where they used my thigh and for the first 3 weeks I shuffled along at snail pace, couldn’t pick anything up from the floor, put my shoes on and struggled to get dressed. Things got a little easier in week 4 despite an infection in my donor site. Week 5 saw me pretty much back to normal and I returned to work this week. I was given a brown waterproof tape to put on my scars and change weekly and have only just stopped wearing it and started massaging my scars with bio oil. I’m still wearing my bra to bed but have finally ditched the cycle shorts which I wore 24/7 for 6 weeks. Are you wearing support underwear?
Keep thinking long term instead of short term and the next few weeks will soon be a blur in the past. X

Hi Lambo

Frustrating though it may be - it is really early days yet. I initially had quite strong pain relief in hospital but feeling spaced out of it and high as a kite - I soon knocked it on the head and only had paracetemol and ibuprofen which could be alternated and spaced out over every two to three hours which kept the pain under control.

Unfortunately I also developed a haematoma which compromised the wound and was drained and after weeks of dressing changes by district nurses I was eventually attached to a vaccum pump to get things sorted and under control. So 3 months after my operation I am nearly at the end of needing dressings but I can understand your pain. Even now when I’m much more active and am out on occasion walking with my daughter and her dog - I still get the tension and stretching across my stomach but I had been warned that full recovery and movement could take as long as up to a year but everyone is different.

You do need to be kind to yourself and take as long as you need to allow your body to recover but don’t be afraid to use pain relief. See your GP if you feel you need strong pain relief but you may well find a codeine based tablet may be sufficient and then move to paracetemol/ibuprofen. I’m very surprised that you appear to have been discharged without pain relief but it is something that can be sorted really quickly so you can be more comfortable.

Don’t be doing anything strenuous, certainly no hoovering and stuff like that - to begin with it - it took me an hour to iron a shirt  with rest breaks for my tummy. So you are not alone - try not to be impatient and let your body recover and get some painkillers!!


My op was on 7th Sept. I had mastectomy with immediate Diep recon.
I had no pain at all after my op. I was on paracetamol, diclofenic, dihydracodeine and a liquid morphine in hospital. When I came out after a week I still had the same pain relief apart from the morphine, and gradually cut it all down. I was also numb in all the op areas.
The only feeling I had was a tightness in the tummy area. Once I was out if hospital after a week I was walking straight and the only thing was my tummy would feel tighter by end of day.
I am 9 weeks post surgery (if I have counted correctly!)and I now get some sharp stabbing pains on the sites which I am guessing is things knitting together but as I’m not so numb now I can feel it.
As for movement, everything is back to normal, I can sit up from a lying position only using my stomach muscles and I guess I do everyday things now without thinking about it.
Glad you now have some pain relief, it did seem odd not to have any. I took everything that was going!!

Hi powdow and leane, thanks for sharing your experience with me.  I think the tramadol is working although still have some discomfort.  I find that in the morning things are not too bad but by the end of the day my stomach is very hard and my back aches a lot!!!

im just trying to look forward to Christmas because by then I should be doing well x

Hi ladies,I’ve not had a great time of it as I developed an infection in my stomach wound and part of my breast wound.  My stomach wound has re opened now and I’m needing to attend the hospital twice a week to have it dressed.  They say it is quite common and I need to be patient and take it easy but I’m now 6 weeks post op and didn’t expect to still be living in leggings and joggy bottoms thought I might have managed something nice to wear at Xmas especially as I have a nice flat stomach too.  

I’m sure once the wound heels it will all be worth it, I am loving having a cleavage back it makes all the difference xx

Hi Rosie,


i had my double DIEP op over a year ago and also had trouble with leakage for several months. I was fitted with a pump bandage, and it’s basically a stick on bandage which draws fluid from your wound using a small battery operated pump. It’s really good because it keeps your wounds dry, meaning they should heal a little quicker. Took me the best part of 4 months to finally heal up, but not had any problems since. Hope you have a similar outcome. All the best and take care, Ann X X 

Hi ladies

i didn’t have double diep just single. I am now 9 weeks post op and still attending hospital every week for dressing changes. I only go once a week now as they let me change them at home as my wound opening has gone from about 6 inches to 1 inch still open.  I also have a small bit on my new boob which doesn’t seem to want to heal. They keep changing my dressing type and did discuss the vacuum one but didn’t go down that route. 

I am now getting out and about but haven’t seen my consultant for my “6 week” check as apparently he is too busy. 

People say it must be great to have such a flat tummy but it’s no good when the rest of me is still so fat!!

hope you guys are recovering well xx