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

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

I personally did not need a riser recliner chair although a recliner chair would have been nice.

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

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!!

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

Hi Jill. I had MX and LD flap 2and a half weeks ago. I am small breasted and have gone entirely without a bra the entire time - I bought a selection comfy, seamless crop tops from Asda and M&S and a cheap (£12) sports bra from M&S, but when I put them on I found them really uncomfortable because of the swelling - that's possibly more due to having an LD though - possibly quite different with a DIEP? I got some decent cheap button-through PJs from Matalan (£12), though for the first 24 hours I was in a hospital gown so they could keep checking on the recon. Best of all are the very stretchy vest tops I bought from Matalan for just £5 each - easy to get on and off, soft and comfy, and I'm wearing them to all my appointments, as my top is on and off. Bigger breasts probably need more support though.

 

Immediately post-op, you'll have loads of painkillers, so while you'll be uncomfortable and find it difficult to move about in bed, if you keep up with the pain control it is all manageable. The hospital beds can be raised up either end, so it does help with getting out of bed, sitting up, etc. At my hospital, visiting hours are quite restricted, but this was good as there is nothing better than rest to help heal - some visitors were nice to get though. I have been eating like a horse since my op, but I bled a lot in surgery and became anaemic, so I think it's my body's way of getting the resources to make more blood. Best things I took into hospital (as advised elsewhere on this site) were a small shoe box to keep any little bits and pieces to make them easy to reach, ear plugs! and eye mask esp for night when other people are getting checked every half hour, and ginger cordial, which makes water that bit nicer when you need to drink loads to rehydrate in all that heat - and helps if you are feeling a bit queasy after anaesthetic. Dry shampoo can be a good thing too, and some magazines rather than a book, which is a bit harder to focus on after srugery. Good luck - you'll be fine!

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

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 one.my abdomen scar healing really well.put e45 on it everyday.you 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.
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Re: How do I prepare physically AND emotionally for DIEP reconstruction??

Hi everybody who has been kind enough to give advice.
I am beginning to think its like packing for holiday- some things you will wear all the time and others you just won't wear because you can't forecast sizing very accurately. Hospitals and patients all seem to vary. I have 2 pJs and 1 front opening nighty and hopefully if those ordered from Amazon and Bra Clinic arrive on time 3 bras of varying openings. Hope that will be enough for 6 days in hospital.
Nobody has mentioned knickers other than Bridget Jones. Does that just mean waisted or does it mean supportive ones? What happens to waist sizes when all the swelling subsides? Are you left with a smaller waist? Must admit that would be a treat!
5 days to go and am getting jittery. Trying to keep busy- never seen a house or freezer so full! immediately post op in hospital were you very with it? Really hoping I'm not otherwise I'm going to find sleeping and being comfortable rather annoying. Did you find having visitors helpful? What happens to you appetite with all these comings and goings?
Oh deep joy!
Thanking you,
Jill
Member

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

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

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

Just a couple of thoughts Jill. 

 

I haven't had this surgery but prior to my surgery i was wearing 36 E/F (still am but my right breast is currently c cup (with tissue expander and wearing a partial prosthesis).  I always wore underwired balconette bras but as you can imagine these are a no go at the moment.  I have found a lovely range in Debenhams called Nurture (Maternity range) that go up to 40/42 and g / h cup very soft (no scratchy lace / bits) No wires but very supportive.  They are £15 - £18 approx.    On the nightie front i got a couple of Gents button through nightshirts.  I was lucky i found them on a local market but they are M & S (below knee and button all down the front /  Ideal 'cos every Doctor / Nurse / District Nurse wanted a look).  

 

Take Care   Gilly x 

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

Hi there Sara,

 

I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to post today.  This is not my route of treatment but i am really pleased to read such positive, practical and helpful comments as i have to undergo further surgery early next year.   I had mx (June 2013) , following two attempts at WLE (Consultant was unable to get clear margins).  I have a tissue expander in my right side which will be replaced by permanent silicone and the left breast lifted / reduced at the same time.  I am encouraged that i will be OK having the surgery, i was wobbling a bit and wondering whether not to bother (feeling a bit surgeried out.....), I'd also had Chemo 6 x FEC T commenced November 2012 - February 2013.

 

I hope that you are feeling OK after your Chemo today and take it easy for a few days.

 

Take Care   Gilly x

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

Hi Sara42, some useful advice thank you especially as you have much on your paler too. Good luck with the chemo- not an easy time for you and quite frightening first time round.
One of my biggest headaches has been finding bras. Have been told to go up a size but stay same cup size. Being 40D now I don't find it easy to buy bras anyhow but trying to find 42s very tricky. Have gone to Bra Clinic online where they have bras specifically for breast reconstruction. A good choice but expensive. And nighties- what a pfaff just for a few days in hospital.
Your post prepares me for hiccups along the way. Well done you for still smiling.
Thanking you, Jill
Member

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

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

I'm sorry to hear this is the second time you're going through this, life is so unfair. I would follow the post op advice you've been given and take all the help you're offered. It can be difficult to let go of control and i struggled a bit at first to accept help. However I gave in and eventually was quite comfortable sitting back while my mum got on with my housework 😉 Just take it a day at a time and rest up to allow your body time to heal and recover. My next appointment with the plastic surgeon is not until june 2014. He said this allows time to complete treatment and time for everything to settle down after radiotherapy which i think should hopefully finish around Feb / March time. I,m not sure how much longer I,ll need to wait for the surgery but have read on here that the wait can be quite lengthy. Best wishes xxx

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

Hi flower75
Thank you so much for your positive and encouraging reply. One can read so many alarming and scarey posts on this forum. I will try to take on board your advice. Generally I am a control freak who likes to organise things my way and to be zonked out in hospital relying on nurses will be difficult. I also have been advised to be lazy and 'slob' out for two weeks post op when normally I shall want to be setting myself goals and pushing myself. I had breast cancer 17 years ago treated with lumpectomy, chemo and rads so guess am scared how horrid all this business can get. I just have to tell myself I conquered it once so can do it again. I am heartened by yours and others' response to their tummy tuck and perky breasts so have something concrete to look forward to. Good luck with the breast reduction. Will that be after about 3 months?
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Re: How do I prepare physically AND emotionally for DIEP reconstruction??

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:

http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/breast-cancer-information/treating-breast-cancer/surgery/reconstr...

Take care
Lucy BCC

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

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

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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