Recovering from DIEP Flap Breast ReconstructionYou should plan on staying in the hospital for 3 or 4 days after this surgery, so that nurses can keep an eye on your healing process. Pack loose, comfortable clothing for your trip home (allow room for surgical drains). When your fluid build-up has significantly decreased, you may be able to have your drains removed, which should be about a week after surgery. Plan on resting for 4 to 6 weeks after a DIEP, and make sure someone will be around to do drive and lift for you. Plan on going for follow-up appointments so your surgeon can assess your healing progress, incisions and dressings.
DIEP Flap for Double MastectomyIf you have enough skin and fat on your tummy to create two new breasts, you can have a DIEP flap reconstruction after a double mastectomy. If you've already had abdominal tissue used for breast reconstruction (TRAM flap) then you must choose a different method (lat flap or implant).
Special Considerations for the DIEP FlapDIEP flap is microsurgery, which requires extensive training and experience, in addition to special facilities and surgical tools. The sutures used to reconnect the blood vessels are about the same diameter as a strand of your hair. Your surgical team will use a high-power microscope to perform the most critical part of this procedure (reconnecting blood vessels). Choose a surgeon for this reconstruction carefully, asking plenty of questions until you feel comfortable making a decision to go ahead with the procedure.
American Cancer Society. Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy. Types of Breast Reconstruction. Revised: 09/06/2007.
National Cancer Institute. Surgery Choices for Women with Early-Stage Breast Cancer. Posted 10/22/2004.