Recovery from diep flap recon

Nearly 3 weeks ago I had a mastectomy, sentinel node biopsy and diep recon. The new boob feels very firm and is also sitting higher than the other one. My ps says it will drop in time. How long does it take for the breast to soften up or will it always feel firm? Hopefully the corset will go over the next week. I’m steadily getting the movement back in my shoulder but it pulls under the arm where the sentinel node biopsy was done.

I’m told that I should be about 90% fit by 2 months, is that a general experience. If anyone could share their experience of their recovery I would be very interested.

Many thanks and love to all


i had my diep around the same time as you , had mine on 26th september.
however mine was a delayed recon as i had a masectomy 2 years ago, and as i needed chemo & rads,
i was advised to wait.
My new boob is sitting higher than my other one and i have also been told its normal and will drop to match remaining boob,
it does also feel firm, although i still feel dumb too.
I am feeling better as every day goes by but i know its going to be a steady recovery,i’m walking upright now but still cant bend down or stretch up.
i’m not wearing a corset but am wearing huge support pants !! the plastic surgeons nurse told me friday that i will have to wear them for weeks.

sorry i cant help much with your questions as i am recovering along side you.

love kim x

Hi Cassie

I had mastectomy with free flap recon in May 2006. My PS said she always makes the new breast a bit bigger because sometimes it shrinks and if I needed radiotherapy sometimes that makes it shrink too. But she also said I could have an adjustment if needed when it was all over. I then had chemo from June to December and radiotherapy in March, and although my new breast softened and dropped a bit, it was still a bit bigger than the other one and firmer. So I have just had my ‘old’ breast lifted with a small implant and the nipple lifted to match the other one - oh yes, I had my new nipple constructed at the same time. I am a bit bruised and battered but it is all looking very good. I could have had a reduction on the new breast but I’ve never been THAT big!!

When I had my original surgery, I was advised to wear a certain sort of bra and a high waisted girdle, day AND night, for 3 MONTHS! It was not much fun, especially when I was having chemo and feeling rough. But I persevered and my tummy is nice and flat and my scar is flat and really faded now. My new breast is a very good shape so it was all worth it.

I originally opted to just have the sentinel nodes removed but because the cancer had spread to the nodes, I had axilliary clearance in January. Both times I was given exercises to do to gradually get my arm and shoulder working again. The first time it took a couple of months to get back to normal - it was quicker in January. I also had exercises to do to strengthen my tummy.

I did recover quite quickly from the surgery - I was told it could take up to 3 months, but after 2 months I had healed well and started laying flat again. However I was having chemo so that made me feel dreadful. I did feel I was being held back by the treatment. I was fortunate in that I did not have any infections or setbacks and my blood count was always back up when the chemo was due.

I felt fit enough to go back to the gym in May and I had a personal trainer supervising my programme to slowly get me back into exercising. I then returned to work in July and was phased back in - until 2 weeks ago when I had my final surgery!

I don’t feel quite as fit as I was before being diagnosed with cancer - my tummy feels tighter and the numbness under my arm still feels strange sometimes. I don’t ever expect to feel exactly the same again, but I am just getting used to it now.

Its been a long trek but I have learned that you just have to go with it and not try to rush anything. It is a terrible thing to experience and you must look after yourself and take all the time you need. Get all the help and support you need , both personal and professional. Accept it may take some time and if you have ‘off days’, put a posting on this site - there is always someone to cheer you up!

You will get there, hopefully quicker than I have, and it will all have been worth it. Take care.
Best wishes
Pam x

Hi Kim and Pam

Thank you for your posts. Kim I had my op on 27th so it will be interesting to compare notes as we go along.

I had previously had radiotherapy on the breast and the mastectomy was needed because of a return of the problem. I have to speak to the consultant about possible hormone therapy which I am not too keen on because of all the side effects. I am hoping that when I see the ps later today I can move to some sort of support girdle/pants. The surgical corset I’m wearing rolls up at the bottom and is very thick. At the moment I’m wearing jogging pants two sizes larger than usual - not very attractive! It will be good to be able to wear something that you feel looks a little nicer.

I realised on Monday that I need to take things easier when several people visited and I didn’t manage to get any sleep during the day. I’m not used to just sitting around I’m quite an active person.

Thank you for your posts