Tram Flap - Should I do it?

joan57 Member Posts: 4
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I had a bi-lateral mastectomy in March, 2003. At that point in time, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to have reconstruction. Finally came to the decision that it is important to me in order to move forward.

Saw the surgeon yesterday. Since I had radiation on my left side, the skin is not good for an implant. My only options are a tram flap or a latissimus dorsi (sp?) flap on the left side, implant on the right.

I know this is major surgery, very painful and I have been reading lots of posts.

Did you know what to expect going in?
Did you explore any other options?
Bottom line - were you pleased (overall) with the results and/or did you regret your decision and why?

I NEED SOME FEEDBACK - please help!!


  • elizagain
    elizagain Member Posts: 43
    Hi, I haven't had reconstruction yet, but had a bilateral on June 11. I am planning to have the lat flap on the left side and an implant on the right . You might want to get hold of a copy of a book called A Woman's Decision, which explains the options. My aunt had a Tram Flap and had quite a few problems. I've heard, though that the latissimus dorsi flap is easier.
  • SusanAnne
    SusanAnne Member Posts: 245
    Hi Joan. It is 6 weeks today that I had my delayed TRAM flap surgery (one side only). I thought I was prepared going in but I have to say that it was much worse for me than I anticipated. I expected the abdominal and breast discomfort obviously, but I was not prepared for so much midsection pain. There was a lot of inflamation and tightness. I am usually a very good patient, motivated to do well and follow instructions to a tee. I have been walking 2 miles a day since the third week, and at week 5 joined a yoga class (doc says the gentle stretching is good). Yet I feel I should be further along than I am. The doctor assures me that I am on target with my recovery, I guess I just expected more of myself. I do have a spot near my underarm where the flap is under my radiated skin which is very hard and it prevents me from having the range of motion in my arm I should have. I will be starting some physical therapy to work on that.
    To sum things up, it was a much bigger operation than I anticipated. Others on this site have said that it could take up to a year to fully appreciate the results. I would say that up to week 4 post-op that if I had known how painful it was going to be, I might not have done it. But the further out I get, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am happy with how things look now with clothes on. Clothes off is another story. I guess once the nipple is constructed it should make a big difference.
    Abdominal TRAM was the only thing I considered since I did not want any implants. I hope my comments help you in some way to make up your mind. If you have any other questions, feel free to email me. Good luck.
  • cathdavis
    cathdavis Member Posts: 42
    Joan--I am also considering reconstruction. I haven't made any commitment yet, but have been investigating the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery in New Orleans, LA. I posted on this site some time ago to see if anyone had heard of this place or done this, but got no replies. They have a great website and their surgeries seem much less traumatic than others. I really would like to do this. Maybe you'll want to look them up. The Center for Restorative Breast Surgery, 4429 Clara St., Suite 340, New Orleans, LA 70115, 888-899-2288 (toll free).
  • cruf
    cruf Member Posts: 908
    Hi Joan. I had Tram Flap reconstruction almost 4 years ago and if I had too, would do it again. Yes, it's alot of surgery and a long recovery but I didn't find it as bad as I had expected. I was actually back on the tennis court 7 weeks after surgery. I was 48 at the time. I would be willing to answer any questions you may have . Feel free to e-mail me here and I will be of as much help as I can. Take care. Oh, I was never given another option. I was told this was the way it would be done and I never asked any other questions. I probably would have chosen the implants but at that time, I was a wreck and very glad I didn't have to make decisions. As I said, I'm glad I had the Tram. It feels and looks very natural. You do have lingering tightness and numbness in the abdomen but you do get used to it. Good luck with whatever you decide. Let us know how things turnout. HUGS!! Cathy
  • martyzl
    martyzl Member Posts: 196
    Hello Joan!
    Well, if you'd asked me soon after my Tram, I would have said RUN! *grin* But after the healing really began, I fell in love with my new "boob". We even named it "Babette". I had to have it resized as it was made to match a recently pregnant breast at the time... that surgery was much, much easier and faster to heal.
    I too was doing Yoga and walking soon after the surgery, you just have to be gentle about the cobra and other belly-sliding moves. *wink*

    I am very happy with my TramFlap now. It really was worth it to me, in the end.

    Take a look at my website in here under martyzl - I wrote a fair bit about my experience just afterward and my feelings throughout the recovery period.
    It may be different, emotionally, for you as well... we are all different, of course, but you have had time to heal from the initial fear and surgery.
    Also, consider that your results may differ side to side using implants and flaps. Hopefully someone else who has done this will show up to tell you their experiences. Check with your surgeon as well to ask if you can contact previous clients to talk about their experiences, etc.
    Follow your heart, you will know what is best for you.

    If you have any other questions or want to chat, please feel free to email me!
    Be well Joan, all my best!
  • MaryBeth39
    MaryBeth39 Member Posts: 1
    Hi Joan: I just had the latissimus dorsi flap done a week ago and I haven't had too many problems. I researched the procedure before hand and asked some people via the Medical Oncology area who had the surgery. I went through hell with the chemo last year and then the mamogram showed some calcifications on the right side that wasn't there before in January of '04. I said if anything showed on a mamo Iwould do the bilateral mastectomy and reconscrution. The plastic surgeon I have is wonderful as far as explaining the side effects good the bad and the ugly! I have found by talking with people about the cancer and surgery is very thearaputic. Hang in there and the right decision for you will come. Best wishes to you.
  • joan57
    joan57 Member Posts: 4
    Thanks to everyone who posted. I think I will be going through with the tram flap. My surgery is scheduled for 9/23. Looking forward to the tummy tuck . I will be back afterwards to give feedback to others as you kindly did for me.