Hi @Sandbanks, I had a mastectomy and immediate DIEP flap reconstruction last year. My recovery was pretty challenging at first but it slowly became easy to manage over time and well worth the 6 week recovery period for the results that I have now.
I spent 5 days in hospital recovering. My reconstructed breast was monitored very frequently over the first few days to make sure the reconstructed vessels were working. I was pretty much sat up in bed (slightly reclined) the entire time. The skin across my belly felt so, so tight as pretty much all of my fatty tissue was taken from my belly for my reconstruction, I understand this might not be the case for many people though.
I was really anxious about any movement but by day 2 I was helped to move out of the bed and into a chair by a nurse. I really thought it was an impossible task but once I was in a chair (it did take a while!) I was shocked that it was physically possible so soon after surgery.
I think by the 3rd day I was slowly shuffling around the ward once a day, my back was bent over a lot. I had a shower with the assistance of a nurse, I could have manage on my own but it was much less hassle having the help. I had 3 drains after the surgery and they were removed one-by-one over a period of 3 days. I personally made myself very anxious prior to each removal but they were so easy, quick and painless. I was overreacting.
By the time I got home I spent a lot of time across the sofa, shuffling around my flat and not doing much. I was reasonably mobile after 1 week. I had a tough time sleeping as I still had to have my head raised and cushions under my knees to keep my legs elevated. I don't think I could lay down flat for many weeks but it slowly improved day by day. I did the physiotherapy exercises as instructed which helped slowly improve my movement too.
I was wearing a mastectomy bra and a binder across my belly for the entire recovery period. I changed my own dressings as advised at home and required a bit of help putting my binder back on at the start. Again that got a bit easier when I had more movement back. I had regular dressing appointments too. I recently discovered I have an allergy to some surgical glue so I had a lot of itchy skin problems post-surgery.
I think my advice would be no matter how hard you find it at the start, every day will get slightly better. I recommend the mastectomy bras from M&S if you don't have any already, I was very pleased with mine. I'd recommend making sure you have additional pillows or cushions that you can use at home to elevate parts of your body. And I'd also recommend having someone to do everything for you - from making cups of tea, fetching you snacks to helping you wash your back!
A year and a half later, I am still so happy I had this surgery.
Thank you for posting. Whilst you wait for a reply to this message, you can speak to our clinical nurses on 0808 800 6000 about your diep reconstruction and what to expect afterward.
Sending you our best wishes,
I’ve just received news I can have a delayed diep reconstruction soon. Has anyone here had this, and if so how was your recovery. Any advice?