1 year ago today I had my DIEP flap surgery.

 

I can not believe that it has been a year since my initial surgery.  This year has gone by so fast.  From being scared about this surgery, and now actually wishing I had known about the PALB2 gene earlier, I am so pleased with the results.  Just knowing that my chances of breast cancer are so much lower and not having to have 4 exams a year gives me a peace of mind that I never knew could happen.

I would like to thank my Doctors, Dr. Atilli (Oncologist), Dr. Jennifer Snow (breast surgeon) and especially Dr. Nabil Habash (DIEP Flap Reconstruction Surgeon).  They all have been so wonderful during this whole process.

I am so pleased with the results.  I am posting before and after pictures below and the difference is amazing.  I don’t miss my original breasts or big tummy at all.  My new girls are my breasts now and I could not be happier.

I see that people do read my blog, but not very many ask questions.  I will gladly answer any question about this surgery, from a patients perspective only.

There are a few things and suggestions that I have learned from trial and error about healing from this surgery.

  1.  Try to strengthen your CORE before surgery.  It helps with being able to get out of bed.  You can not use your arms at first so a strong CORE helps.
  2. Stay positive always.  Your body will heal and everyone heals differently and at a different time table.
  3. Bring clothes to the hospital that can be pulled up rather than down.  Your arms do not move easily and while pulling a shirt up (elastic neck) your arms can just stay by your side and not move much.  Loose stretch pants are the best while healing.
  4. Bring a lanyard with a velcro loop for all of the drains and Doppler Machine wires.  You can wind them up and put the loop around them.  Hanging them from your neck is so much easier on you.  You will use this many times while healing with drains and other machine wires.
  5. There are many sports bras that can be bought at a cheaper price and work very well.  Front zippers were the best for me.
  6. Wear a very thin and tight T Shirt, (with short sleeves and no pockets) under your support bras.  This keeps the edges of the bra from rubbing and hurting your very tender skin.
  7. There are many long line compression briefs that are very inexpensive you can purchase at ordinary stores.  (great for 2nd stage lipo recovery)
  8. If your Dr allows, stretch your arms.  They will be very tight and raising them overhead is painful and it needs to be stretched.
  9. All wounds will heal.  Some are very lucky to not have to do wound care, but it will all heal and the scars are not that bad.
  10. Love your new breasts and body.  They are not perfect, but most of us did not start out with perfect breasts and body.

Well I am winding down this blog.  I sure hope that it helps some people in making this decision and through their healing journey.  I will post additional pictures if I am able to loose the last 20 pounds that I have.  I am curious how weight loss will affect my new breasts.

 

Before and after pictures are below.  If these kinds of pictures bother you please do not view.

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Before surgery left side.JPG
Left side before Surgery
Oct 31 2017 3.jpg
Left side after surgery

 

Before Surgery Right side.png
Right side before surgery
Oct 31 2017 4.jpg
Right side after surgery
BS front.JPG
Front View before surgery
Oct 31 2017 1.jpg
Front view after surgery
Oct 31 2017 2.jpg
The new girls.
Oct 31 2017 5.png
Tummy scar after 1 year and my belly button.

The second stage healing. Sept 5, 2017

I am so sorry that I have not kept up with my blog.  As time goes by I seem to forget that I am still healing.  As of today all of my incisions are now closed.  It has been a long summer waiting for them to heal.  No pool, no lake, so my summer has been a different one for me.

One thing that I have realized is that if my stitches are too close to the surface skin then my body does not like it.  That is why my incisions did not heal.  Once the troublesome stitch was removed they healed up faster.  I am going to post pictures in the order of healing.  If you do not want to see the time line of healing then please just close this page.

Pictures below

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Aug 1 2017 2.JPG
Aug 1 2017.JPG Aug 1, 2017

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Aug 9 2017.JPG
Aug 9, 2017
Aug 14 2017.JPG
Aug 14, 2017.  Starting to dry up
Aug 19 2017.JPG
Aug 19, 2017.   You can see the stitch in the center of the hole
Aug 19 2017 2.JPG
Aug 19, 2017.  Almost healed

 

Aug 30 2017 2.JPG
Aug 30, 2017.  Remove the stitch and it closes
Aug 30 2017.JPG
Aug 30, 2017. Just about closed.
Sept 5 2017 2.JPG
Sept 5, 2017.  All healed, just in time for the Disney water park
Sept 5 2017.JPG
Sept 5,  2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 25, 2017. 2nd Stage Surgery

I have concentrated so much on wound recovery I have not talked about the rest of the surgery.  I do not know why someone would have lipo done.  The recovery hurts so bad.  It hurts to remove the compression garment, and to even touch the skin.  You have to rub it daily with lotion to help with swelling and to disperse the remaining fat into he tunnels that had fat removed.

I know that it is part of the whole surgery but I did not have much pain with the actual DIEP Flap part.  The pain is better now.  At least I do not cry when I have to rub it.  Sounds funny coming from me since I have such a high pain tolerance.

I am please with the results and I am sure in a couple of months when all of the swelling is gone it will look even better.

No pictures for today.  Not much difference in the wounds today.

July 24, 2017. Wound Care continues.

Another day has passed an no new wounds.  The big one is ever so slowly healing. The flap above it is completely gone on the big wound.  While I was cleaning it I noticed something on the bottom of the wound.  Lo and behold a long piece of stitching used to close the interior part of my incision.  I carefully cut it and hopefully now it will do better.  Maybe I should have been a surgeon.

Pictures below

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July 24 1.JPG
Top wound has scabbed over.  
July 24 2.JPG
All around the hole looks good.  Now that the stitch is gone maybe it will close.  It is actually not as wide as it use to be.  Painful though

Trying another way to get my wound to heal. July 14, 2017

I received a call from Sarah, Dr Habash’s PA and she said to come by the office so she can look at the wounds.

Just got back from the Dr and she said that it was a stitch on the small hole.  She removed it and it should be better quickly.  Now the other hole is another story.  She gave me a silver kind of gauze to cut and put into the hole and hopefully it will be better soon.

I will post pictures tonight.

Pictures below.

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July 14 2.JPG
Remove the stitch and it closes in a couple of hours

Another hole. July 12, 2017

Well I know now that my body does not like dissolvable stitches.  I have another small hole on my right breast and I think it is a stitch.  I am sending a picture of the big hole to Dr Habash’s PA and see what she says.  Slow healing sucks

Pictures below

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July 13 1.JPG
Just not healing
July 12 2.JPG
New hole.  See the stitch

Looking better. July 7, 2017

Today is just pictures.  They contain all of the views, so if this will be bothersome to you please do not scroll down to them.

Pictures are below

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July 7 1.png
Right side.  The tummy marks are from the compression garment I still have to wear.
July 7 3.png
Left side
July 7 2 .png
Front view.  Tummy is still swollen but looking better. My breasts are still swollen on the sides also.
July 7 4.JPG
So small now.  T junction on my left breast

 

Wound is getting better. July 6, 2017

Just a short note to say that both wounds are looking so much better.  I think in a week they should both be gone.  Or I hope they will.

Pictures below

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July 6 1.JPG
It is so small now.  All around it looks great
July 6 2.JPG
The green from the inside is about gone.  It should start closing up now

July 5, 2017. Wound getting better

Time is what it takes to heal a wound.  In just a day the T junction wound is so much smaller and the other one is not quite as deep as yesterday.  I guess the saying “time heals all wounds” is the perfect saying for me today.

Have a great day.

Pictures below,

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July 5 1.JPG
Smaller and looking better all around it.
July 5 2.JPG
Not quite so deep a wound now