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when will the stomach tightness ease up after TRAM procedure?

alexlib_mom's picture
Posts: 46
Joined: Mar 2010

Hello all -

I had a mastectomy and tram two weeks ago (two cancer free weeks - yay). I'm healing pretty well. No more drains. My big problem is the tightness in my abdomen - I still feel like I am somewhat hunched over. Anybody out there have any experience with when this will ease up? My new boob also feels much more full and big than the other one, but the PS told me to relax and be patient; that it takes time for the swelling to go down.

Any thoughts/advice are welcome!


Angie2U's picture
Posts: 2992
Joined: Sep 2009

I had a lumpectomy Stephanie, but, want to wish you well. Others on here that have gone through what you have will post for you.

Good luck,


Posts: 931
Joined: Oct 2000

Hi Stephanie! I had a tramflap 10 years ago. It does take time to feel better but it will come. I was back on the tennis courts 7 weeks after surgery. I do have to tell you that I still feel "tight" in my abdomen and this is 10 years later. ,The more bloated I get or if I gain weight, I feel more tightness. It's doable but definitely still there! My breast doesn't bother me but it is numb but you do get used to that! If you have any specific questions that I can help you with, please feel free to e-mail me here(Private message) and I will try to help you. Good luck! Feel better! HUGS!!! Cathy

Balentine's picture
Posts: 393
Joined: Feb 2010

Did you guys have the DIEP where they pull the muscle up under the skin to the breast area or did they actually cut away the muscle and tissue from your abdomen and move it up to your breast area?

My PS told me he will be doing muscle sparing free tram flap on me next summer and will not take any muscle so does that mean I should not feel this tightness you guys are having?

jk1952's picture
Posts: 613
Joined: May 2009

Lorrie, I think you're a bit confused about the surgeries. DIEP is the surgery where the tissue is cut from the abdomen and the blood supply is reconnected under the arm. From what I've read, it is almost identical to the muscle-sparing free tram flap, except there may be a bit more muscle taken (or cut) with the muscle-sparing free tram.

The one where the muscle is tunneled under the skin is the 'regular' TRAM flap, and this surgery has been done much longer than the DIEP. It's so confusing: they shouldn't use the term TRAM flap in so many ways.

In April 2009, I had one breast reconstructed using DIEP and one using the free flap, and I don't really see much difference between the two. You do feel the tightness for quite a while, and as Cathy mentioned, I continue to feel the tightness some, especially with bloating or a weight gain. But, it is much, much better than a year ago.

mariam_11_09's picture
Posts: 695
Joined: Nov 2009

I had DIEP flap back in January. My stomach is still a little tight but I can stand up straight and bend over backwards a little. I remember walking hunched over for about 3 weeks or so then I realised I could stand up straight and it didn't pull as much. My stomach 6 months later is still numb in places as are parts of my reconstructed breast. The swelling eventually does go down on the breast. Mine are now two very different shapes but the PS said he would fix that when he does the next surgery.

I also do African dance which uses a great deal of the core body (hips, stomach and chest). I went back to dancing about 5 weeks after surgery and this, for me, seemed to help ease the tightness in my stomach area. I also do a little yoga.

It really just takes time. Go easy on your body.

Posts: 44
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Stephanie!

I had a bi-laterial w/ tram flap on April 30th.

I understand about the tightness. Are you able to sleep in bed yet? Has your pc cleared you for exercise? Has he told you that you can use any cream on the area?

I'm at work right now. BUT, at home I have a book that gives you streching, balance and strenghting exercises based on the type of surg. & reconstruction you had. They give you approximate time line for starting. As soon as I can, I'll get the name of the book and post it.

As soon as I started the streching exercises that were recomended I felt SOOOOOOOOOO
much better. No more hunching over.

My one breast, were the tumor was, is still larger than the other. I think its from all the biops. of the nodes? I have an appointment on 7/23 with my pc to see what's what. He did tell me I may have to wait 6 months untill ALL the swelling goes down before he can finish up.

I'll try to get on the computer later today or in the A.M. with the name of the book for you.

Hugs to you for all you've been through!!!


VickiSam's picture
Posts: 9085
Joined: Aug 2009

suffer .. in 1 way or another trying to get back to looking 'Normal' or feeling normal.

I was slightly bent over after my c-sections, so that is the only memories I have to share with you ..

Bi-lateral Mact,y with immediate reconstruction (expanders).

Best of luck .. will ice help or a heating pad .. Please check with your Doctor .. before doing anything ....!! Please

Vicki Sam

Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 2010

I'm going to be following in your footsteps, So glad the surgery is behind you. I just want it to be over and be back home getting better. Hopefully, Justine will post the name of the book, sounds very helpful.

Hang in there!

Posts: 44
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Stephanie!!

Sorry didn't get back sooner. Computer @ home on fritz so I came back to work to get this info to you.

The name of the book is " The Breast Caner Survivor's Fitness Plan"

It is by; Carolyn M. Kaelin, M.D., M.P.H. she is the Director, Comprehensive Breast Health Center, Brigham and Woman's Hospital.

PLEASE.... Check with your doctor to make sure you are clear to exercise BEFORE you start anything!!!!!!!!!!

I really loved this book. For me, the struggle was getting the mobility back in my lower half. I had a ton of exercises for the mast. but nothing for the tram area. I still do the srtetching and feel better after and will be starting the strenghting around the 26th.

My doctor did recomend "Spanx" shapewear. Medically at this point there isn't a benifit but they said I would porobabbly feel more comfortable with it on still. They were correct. I use the "higher power" that stops under my sports bra rather than @ my waist.

Hope all this helps. Keep in touch with your progress!!


alexlib_mom's picture
Posts: 46
Joined: Mar 2010

I'll look for that at the cancer center library where I am or online. The cancer center library seems to have everything! I've read one book by her - she is a breast cancer surgeon who is also a breast cancer survivor. Reading helps.

I have been cleared to walk and do the mastectomy exercises. Lots of walking. Not allowed to do anything with my abs until 8 weeks after the surgery, but every day I feel like I am able to stand up a little straighter! I will get a copy of that book so that I have it when I am cleared to do exercises. My surgeon did suggest that I work with a personal trainer afterwards to regain core strength.

I had a traditional Tram flap using some of my stomach muscle. From what I can tell, it isn't particularly weakening my stomach. The doctors told me that whether they use the muscle or cut into it for the free tram, it weakens it about the same amount.

Thank goodness some of the swelling is going down! My breasts are almost looking close to the same size again.


Posts: 8
Joined: May 2010


I had the same procedure done 5 weeks ago. Just this morning the abdomen tightness let up quite a bit. Still can't lift more than 5 lbs. for another week. A couple of weeks ago my doc said I could do arm exercises to avoid shoulder lock and he cleared me for walking. Ate too much on the 4th of July learned the hard way about that ugg. Eating smaller meals and a few snacks each day seems to help me.

I will look into that book. Thanks to the person who posted that.

alexlib_mom's picture
Posts: 46
Joined: Mar 2010

Helpful information - thanks.

I was able to walk a half mile today, so that's good. I'm easing up on the painkillers and trying to go to just OTC. I'm also finding I can stand up straighter every day.

20 days after surgery now and all I keep telling people is that I'm better every day. That's all we can ask for sometimes, I think.

I've been cleared by my surgeon to spend a couple of weeks up at the beach with my parents, so that's helpful. I'd much rather recuperate on the beach than at home.

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