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Flap surgury

Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2014

I found out that I had  triple neg stage 2 breast cancer 1 1/2 years also. The doctors said it would be best for me to wait to have flap surgury until 1 yr after radiation . would you tell me your pros and cons of this surgury! I can't decided. Thanks


tufi000's picture
Posts: 753
Joined: Jun 2005

The wait is totally necessary. In 2003 the rads created a huge ctrater in my chest that took 4 years of procedures to try to close.  Finally, conditions for the flap made it doable.  I have an implant on the crater side and me-stuff on the left. Some the effects from the surgery, for a long time I felt like I was wearing a suit of armor under my skin but I was so thrilled to not have to wear bandages or anything not part of me just to go out the door I was ok with that.  I have to eat smaller portions of food more times a day if I get hungry as the screen they put in to hold my innards in was initially very tight. There is also the gift of an incisional hernia hip to hip with the only drawback for me so far is it's being ugly.

Everyone has different priorities. There are also new proccedures for this that weren't around back then too.

Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2014

Thank you so much for your help. This is such a great web site. I wish I would have gotten on when I was going through the chemo and radation.

Posts: 10
Joined: May 2011

Hi, I was diagnosed back in March 2011 and had a single mastectomy, chemo and radiation...I waited almost 3 years for my reconstruction surgery, It was very painful since they gave me a DIEP FLAP ( tummy tuck)  and I have a scar that goes from hip to hip...the  only thing I regret is the wait, I should have done it sooner, I look great! Of course my breast does not like the other one but it is much better than using prosthesis. I love my new body, my belly is completely flat! I must say that I have a lot of pain tolerance and I was in bed for about 10 days, my draining tubes were removed after that and I was almost back to normal within 6 weeks. I would do it AGAIN in a heartbeat!

Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2014

Thank you for your help. This will help me to decided what I want to do. Thanks again for your help

Posts: 4
Joined: Sep 2013

Hi Dalia37, Thanks for sharing your info on the DIEP FLAP surgery. I'm having it done in september this year (I had the mastectomy done in July 2013). I love hearing that you think you look great - I am secretly hoping I will too! well, not so secretly .... I do want to know something and was wondering if you can tell me: as the fat cells are transferred from tummy to breast, if you lose/gain weight what happens in either the breast or tummy areas? Is it normal weight gain/loss or something a bit different? In what ways does your new breast look different to the old one? I am having a lift done on the other breast so was hoping they would kind of look similar? Was this your experience? Did you have a nipple recon. on the new breast as well? Lots of questions I know, but not many people I can ask who really know what it's like!

We have a friend's wedding about 2/3 weeks after surgery and I'm assuming I won't be in any fit state to attend.

Thanks xx

GreeneyedGirl's picture
Posts: 1076
Joined: Sep 2008

I think I spell it wrong every time....

However, after  a lumpectomy, radiation.....2 yrs later a recurrence led me to a mastectomy (one side only) with reconstruction ( 6 mo. later) with the lat flap. I healed beautifully with no problems or issues. I was really afraid of the surgery, because it looked so invasive. But I took pain meds for about a week or two and obeyed Dr.s orders and rested, and was out Christmas shopping 7 weeks later (a girlfriend carried my heavy bags).....

Keep gathering information, and talk with your care team (and your loved ones)~ you will make the best decision for yourself.


Posts: 10
Joined: May 2011

Hi again, sorry for the late response. After I woke up after surgery I was in sooooo much pain, I felt like if I just had a baby thru c section,  but there was no baby ...lol. Anyway, when they do the FLAP they take a big part of your belly fat and make a new boob out of it, they throw away the rest. I went down one size after having the surgery and all the swelling was gone. I was told by my doctor that if I gain weight my belly would get stretch marks like when women do with pregnancy so is very important to maintain a steady weight. If you happen to lose weight your breast will get smaller too, because it is after all fatty tissue. As for now my belly is totally flat, new breast is ok, at least i have one. And yes, it is very different from the natural one, just think that they are going to stitch you around a new breast, scarred all the way around, it will be same size and shape as the other one but not natural, also there is no nerving so you don't  feel anything. Ahhhh and one more thing, if you have stretch marks in your belly they will be transferred to your new breast too! Something I wasn't expecting, of course they will be less noticeable within time, just as the scar will fade away eventually. 

Another thing, be very careful about taking care of you after the surgery, doctors recommend not to lift anything weighting more than 1 lb and avoid doing things with that side of the body, because the new breast could detach, so listen to their post-op instructions and you should be ok.

2 or 3 weeks after the surgery you will have the draining tubes removed and will be feeling better but I do not recommend you going out at all, just relax because you will still be with lots of pain, remember that the cut goes from hip to hip with more than 50 (dissolvable) stitches, your skin will be so tight that you won't be able to move as easy and stand up straight, you will be hunching for about a month, walking with your back arched like an old lady. Getting up or sitting down will be hard too, you will need assistance to do so... Simple things like getting a shower will become difficult because of the draining tubes hanging from your belly, do get someone to help you. I hope I am not scaring you, but believe me, it is well worth it! Or at least it is to me (smile)

I went to my check up just last week and my surgeon said that he will fill up my breast a little bit more to match the natural one since is 15% smaller, he will do liposuction from my flanks and inject the fat into the breast so I will have matching breast and a smaller waist and I am so excited about that!!! He will also do the nipple reconstruction there and a month later he will do the tattooing of the Nipple. I hope my experience helps you in a way and when you get it done you feel almost normal like I do!

Take care.



Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2014

Hello, Thanks for all the info.  I am new to the site and i had a double mastectomy and i want to do the flap thing with my reconstruction.  do you know if you have to be a certain weight or can they do it for anyone.  and do you work and when were you able to go back to work.  do you have to stay in the hospital at all.  sorry for all the questions, going to see my surgeon on the 15th and i kinda want to know what to expect and what questions to ask. i really cant wait to do this cuz i just want to look normal again. sounds like your doing fine.



Posts: 3
Joined: Jan 2012

I was diagnosed with BC in 2011. I had chemo, mastectomy, and then radiation. In 2012 I had the DIEP reconstruction. Absolutely NO regrets!! No muscle tissue was bothered. Fat from my belly was used. I had developed lymphodema after my mastectomy so wearing a prosthesis was extremely uncomfortable. So glad I chose DIEP.

Posts: 2
Joined: May 2014

Hi new to site IBC stage 4 surg 2010 met to spine 2012 scheduled for DIEP 7-25 so excited I HATE my prosthetic I have really tried just to be grateful I'm still here but my concave chest is a constant reminder and I have pain most days. My surgeon says I should have less pain after surg. Will rent recliner for sleep told 5 days hosp I'm nervous about the pain we've ALL been thru too much I feel this is a positive so easier to get thru pain right? I wish all of you warm sun on your face love in your heart

Any suggestions comments good or bad appreciated 

live San Diego

Posts: 10
Joined: May 2011

Hi Lovecat3,

Let me tell you that the pain after the surgery is a lot, more than the mastectomy surgery ...but TOTALLY WORTH IT! So hang in there and drink protein shakes so you heal faster. By the way, going to Beautiful SAn Diego on vacations next month! Little jealous you live there...lol

Take care!

jendrey's picture
Posts: 377
Joined: Sep 2009

At the same time as the mastectomy I had an expander placed.  Then had radiation therapy which caused quite a lot of shrinking.  The expander was eventually replaced with an implant.  The implant exchange surgery left me with what looked to be a large purple bruise (but was told it wasn't) that never went away.  My skin was stretched quite thin over the implant and was very difficult to heal.  Oh yeah, I had also received a burn injury during the mastectomy by one of the doctors...whichever one that was using the cauterizing tool got just a little to close and managed to burn a dime-size hole from the inside out.  Cauterized skin does not heal or join back together nicely at all!

A few debridements later and all seemed to be on the way to healing.  Except for one tiny slighty bigger than the head of a straight pin spot.  That spot started oozing a clear yellowish tinted fluid.  My PS about had kittens over it, declaring the implant to be contaminated and scheduled an 'urgent' surgery for the next day that bordered on an emergency IMO and from her standpoint.  I didn't share this 'emergency' view of hers and declined the next day surgery much to her displeasure.  I did have that implant exchanged, that one was also too small.  I don't know what is with her about that...  I finally did get it exchanged to the right size.  But never was really happy with it.

Then she wanted to do a nipple reconstruction using half of my remaining nipple, which they were small to begin with..halving it would just look ridiculous.  Nobody ever mentioned to me how the silicone implant gets cold super easy.  Also, how it never moves with any of the rest of your body.  How it seemed to be a constant reminder of its alien-ness; 'here i am, i don't move and for that i'll always be first and foremost in your thoughts' kind of thing.

Onward to my other options...I then had the flap surgery.  Gotta' love a doctor with a sense of humor is what I like to say about my current situation!  She went ahead and put the implant back in, so I guess she really had been hearing me about how the reconstructed breast had always been to small to match the natural one!  The breast recon healed quite nicely not so much the tummy tuck area.  There was one stubborn area that took forever (about 2 months) to finally close.

But that flap surgery has made all the difference in the world!  The implant now moves along as does the skin, its far more natural a movement and doesn't feel at all alien anymore.

It is about 2 sizes to big, which she did want to do a revision surgery to tidy things up, get the correct implant size, and do the nipple recon using tissue already in place from the flap transplant.  But, I've had enough of the whole BC thing along about now...though I'll be scheduling it soon enough.  :)

Oh yeah, and I have never had one moment of pain from this or any of the previous surgeries.  I did have itching though, very intense itching, although some of that may be related to my allergic reaction to chlorahexadine which is in all of the surgical scrub solutions used prior to surgery.


I am so very glad to have the flap surgery, it truly has made all the difference.





*edit to add

The cauterized hole incident didn't hurt any either although it sometimes 'pained' me to look at it as it looked like it should have hurt, a lot, but didn't.  And that whole area was replaced with the flap anyway and just a fading memory of it now.   

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