If you are about to have a mastectomy or have just had one, your surgical care team may have discussed breast reconstruction surgery with you. Whether to get reconstruction is a profoundly personal decision that many women do not want to rush into. We wanted to highlight what to expect after recovery from our most effective type of breast reconstruction surgery - the DIEP flap method, based on our expertise in conducting them.

How Long Does It Usually Take to Recover?
While DIEP flap reconstruction is faster than TRAM flap methods (which cut into the muscle) or breast implants, the average recovery time for the main breast and abdominal incisions is still six to eight weeks, and tissues can take much longer to fully connect and heal at the sites. Total recovery, including scar shrinking, takes about a year.

How Will You Feel After Having DIEP Flap Surgery?
You'll be in the hospital for the first three to five days so your care team can monitor your wounds and help you manage any discomfort or swelling. You will be given pain relievers and dressings to keep you comfortable at home.

You will be able to walk at discharge, but it will be difficult. Within two weeks of surgery, patients should be able to walk without pain.

You will most likely be uncomfortable for the first few weeks as your tissues repair. Itching around the wound sites or stitches is natural and indicates that the wounds are healing, so try to keep them covered to avoid scratching.

After the first few weeks, you may feel more fatigued or hungry than usual. It’s actually a good sign since it indicates that your body is working hard to mend.

What Activities May Speed Up the Recovery?
Rest, a nutritious diet, and staying hydrated are the best things you can do for your body to improve recovery following surgery. Giving your body adequate time to repair, combined with the correct nutritional assistance, will result in a lot faster and easier recovery.

You could also see a physical therapist or a sports massage therapist. They will be able to suggest gentle exercises that promote healthier tissues and aid in the rebuilding of abdominal strength. Once fully healed, you may find massage effective on scar tissue locations, as this can become rigid and create pain due to restricted movement.

How Soon After DIEP Flap Surgery Can I Drive?
You should be allowed to drive within four to six weeks of surgery since the wounds will have healed well and any glue covering the wounds or stitches should have been removed or dissolved.

Will I Be Able to Feel My New Breast?
There will be no sensation in the new breast. Some sensations may return with time, although in the majority of situations, most women do not report this. Your restored breast is still healthy, so don't be concerned about a loss of sensation.

Is It Normal to Have Fat Lumps Following a DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction?
Following surgery, there may be fat lumps in the breast in approximately 5% of instances. Scar tissue and obesity are frequently to blame. They shouldn't be a cause for concern, but if you notice any discomfort, consult with your surgeon.

What Should You Wear Following DIEP Flap Surgery?
For your abdomen, you may be offered a support girdle or compression garment, and we prescribe a supportive sports bra for your breasts. Wear garments that are comfortable, do not irritate or tug at your stitches, and are easy to put on and take off.

How Long Does It Take for the Pain to Subside After a DIEP Reconstruction?
Within the first 10-14 days after surgery, you'll most likely find yourself grabbing for pain relievers. You may experience stiffness or persistent discomfort while the tissues knit together, but if your pain is difficult to manage or lasts for an extended period of time, consult with your care team.

What Assistance Do You Require Following DIEP Flap Surgery?
It’s better to have someone remain with you or visit you on a regular basis to assist you. Daily duties like laundry, cleaning, hair washing, and cooking may be more difficult than usual, especially shortly after surgery. Things should be easier to manage in a few weeks.

Author's Bio: 

I am Amelia Grant, a journalist, and blogger. I think that information is a great force that is able to change people’s lives for the better. That is why I feel a strong intention to share useful and important things about health self-care, wellness, and other advice that may be helpful for people. Being an enthusiast of a healthy lifestyle that keeps improving my life, I wish the same for everyone.