Bilateral mastectomy and DIEP flap reconstruction experiences

Posted by sandyjr @sandyjr, Mar 1, 2020

I have had breast cancer twice and have had bilateral lumpectomies at different times. After finding out that I have a genetic mutation I have decided to have the bilateral mastectomy and diet flap reconstruction. Both my surgeon and my plastic surgeon have been very forthcoming with what to expect. I still have a few questions for them but figured I would ask about personal experiences to find out if there are more things that I should address. Did anyone have to have blood transfusions? I have been told I will be in intensive care for a day or two. What should I expect in intensive care? When will I be able to feel like I am “with it”? How long was it before you were up walking around? How long did you have drains in and how many did you have? What is your experience good or not? How long after going home was it before you could get back to doing your normal stuff? When were you able to drive again? Are there any tidbits of information that will make my experience easier?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Breast Cancer group.

I will be having these surgeries in the near future (hopefully the corona virus will not delay it) and wonder how long ladies had their drains in and if there was anything…diet, exercise, ?….that would positively affect the timeline of that and healing.

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@sandyjr

I will be having these surgeries in the near future (hopefully the corona virus will not delay it) and wonder how long ladies had their drains in and if there was anything…diet, exercise, ?….that would positively affect the timeline of that and healing.

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Hi @sandyjr, I moved your message to this discussion that you already started about DIEP reconstruction. You ask great questions about how long drains stay in and how to prepare for recovery regarding diet and exercise. I'm confident that @trixie1313 @basslakebabe19 @bomashisha @cathyhand and @dianamiracle will have some great advice and experience to offer.

While we wait for others to chime in, here are some discussions that answer some of your questions:
– Exercise and Physical Activity after Breast Cancer Surgery https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/exercise-and-physical-activity-after-breast-cancer-surgery/
– How Long Did You Have Your Drains in After Mastectomy? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/how-long-did-you-have-your-drains-in-after-mastectomy/
– What Are Your Best Tips for Before and After a Mastectomy? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/what-are-your-best-tips-for-before-and-after-a-mastectomy/
– Breast Surgery; any advice to prepare for surgery? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/breast-surgery-any-advice-to-prepare-for-surgery/
– Videos about Breast Cancer Surgery from Mayo Experts https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/videos-about-breast-cancer-surgery-from-mayo-experts/

When is your surgery scheduled?

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@sandyjr

I will be having these surgeries in the near future (hopefully the corona virus will not delay it) and wonder how long ladies had their drains in and if there was anything…diet, exercise, ?….that would positively affect the timeline of that and healing.

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It's been a long time since I had these surgeries, but if I remember correctly, I had my drains in for about a week to 10 days.

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I had a unilateral DIEP flap in September 2019. My drains were in for one week. I had had an immediate implant with mastectomy in June 2019. I would say the acute recovery time was far more difficult but pain not an issue with DIEP flap. Subacute recovery easier than implant. There was a quicker recovery to activities such as driving, reaching, stretching. Please feel free to ask any other specific questions

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@sandyjr
I had drainage tubes for about 3 weeks – you measure each time the bulb fills and keep a record for the surgeon. The most difficult part was the first few days where my husband had to "strip and milk" the tubes for me and after that I was able to. To start the "after breast surgery" class at Kaiser it was about 10 weeks before being allowed to do that. I would highly recommend if your facility has that to take advantage. The exercises help with core strength and strength training as the muscles around your chest wall will shrink and this helps with that as well as keep "cording" and lymphedema in control. When time has passed, I would also suggest therapeutic water exercise class which is very beneficial as well. You will be tired following surgery so do what you can do and don't feel bad about not keeping up with what you once did. For myself, I slept in an electric recliner and found that beneficial. All the best to you in this new journey in life.

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