DIEP flap surgery: Packing for your Hospital Stay

DIEP flap surgery: Packing for your Hospital Stay

Here is a simple list of what to pack for your hospital stay for DIEP flap surgery:

First and foremost: ID, insurance card, glasses and holder or contacts and case, and any medications your physician would like you to take in hospital. This might include the ever important stool softeners, daily meds you normally take and/or your pain meds if they were ordered ahead of your surgery to take with you.

Pillow ~ I brought a very soft & squishy micro bead pillow with a removable/washable cover.  This is not the exact one I had but a suggestion of something similar.

Why? You will be lying on your back and I like having a pillow up next to my face to “mimic” side sleeping. It was cozy and there were times when the nurses told me it looked so comfy they were going to confiscate it from me in my drug induced sleep!!

Non-skid slippers ~ I brought rubber sandals that were easy to just slide my feet into.

Why? You won’t be able to bend over so bring something non-skid so you can walk the halls using something easy to slide into as you get out of bed. Make sure they aren’t too loose so you don’t trip over them. Also remember you will be wearing compression stockings so make sure you have enough room to slip your feet into them with those stockings on. You will likely get those lovely “non-skid” hospital stockings, too, and I did wear those in the hall a lot for my walking rounds.

Robe ~ I must say this is not a TRUE necessity. I think I used mine once.


Packing for your hospital stayWhy? You don’t want your bum hanging out while doing laps around the hospital floor. We don’t need any full moons in the corridors, ladies!! But, as I said, this is not a true necessity. I had the nurses grab an extra hospital gown and throw it around my shoulders like a superwoman cape while walking the halls. If you want to save the cost of buying a robe, I would but be prepared to ask for that extra “superwoman cape” hospital gown.

Colgate Wisps ~ I kept them close at hand by my bedside to freshen my breath. They are easily disposable. Pack about 6-8 for your stay.

Why? You will likely not be getting out of bed to brush your teeth. That requires a bit of bending over and too much arm work. You will be asked to keep those arms as still as possible the first few days. It’s very easy to use the Wisps. It will help make your mouth feel fresh from the medicine taste after your long surgery.

Facial wipes ~ I just bought Oil of Olay pre-moistened wipes at Target or Wal-Mart.

Why? Moist facial wipes will really feel good and help your face feel clean until you can take that first and much anticipated shower before you go home. It might be 2-3 days before your first shower.

funny cell phone cardIphone ~ I’m an addict and I admit it. Make sure you bring your charger, too!!

Why? I listened to music or down loaded podcasts to keep me occupied. It also helps you stay connected to your friends and family. It really exhausted me to talk on the phone the first couple of days and sending a quick text worked well. A quick text to say, “I’m out of surgery and all went well” helps family and friends feel better. Head’s up!!! Don’t get too over-zealous trying to stay in touch. I looked back at some of my “drug induced” texts and I know there must have been some laughs on the other end. Some strange wording was happening while I was in a fog from fatigue and pain medication.

Added Suggestions

Have your mate, hubby, sister, partner, brother… whoever is going to be with you for your hospital stay make an “all lists” text message to let folks know how surgery is going. Just add family and special friends to a group message to save your partner from texting individual people and avoiding the constant stream of concerned texts. Tell them very gently ahead of time: PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND BACK. I WILL UPDATE YOU ON THE PROGRESS AS I HEAR. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT. This will eliminate getting multiple messages from everyone on the list.

Some Fun Things to Pack

Packing for your hospital stay 1


  • I had my hubby bring a portable, magnetic, back-gammon game set. I was ready for a little mental stimulus and distraction after waking up from recovery and it worked well to break the monotony. I still can’t believe he beat me.  I was thinking there would be a bit of patient sympathy!  Sheesh!
  • A fun notepad and pen to jot down some of your thoughts might be beneficial. Again, NOT a necessity! You won’t be using it a lot since your arms will be propped up on pillows and will remain still most of your hospital stay.

Wardrobe Home

Wear this to the hospital the day of your check in to wear home as well.

Slip on shoes. If those slippers have a sole that works for getting in and out of the car, wear them home. Why pack extra if you don’t have to? I actually wore slide on rubber sandals most of the time I was walking the halls and just wore those home.

Button Up shirt. Nothing you have to pull over your head. Not good for those tender arms that are healing.

Loose-fitting pull up pants. Something with a draw string or very loose fitting yoga pants that aren’t too hard to pull up and down will work fine.


Photo #4

Underwear? You likely will NOT need a bra. Many women wear a surgical bra home with the drains pinned/attached to the bra. Panties? Yes, you can bring some to wear home but make sure they are low cut bikini so they don’t interfere with your abdominal incision.  I would buy some larger men’s t-shirts that you can cut down the middle to easily put on before you put on the surgical bra.  It makes it much more comfortable on those stitches.

Solid Advice from my Own Experience

Think simple!! This is a temporary stay. You don’t want to be hassled carrying a lot of stuff out of hospital the day you go home. Your clothing for your hospital stay is provided for you…. Lovely hospital gowns! You won’t feel like using your arms to hold a book, Kindle or laptop for long periods of time. I’m glad I didn’t bring any of those. Hopefully the hospital you are at will have a television to break up the long hours of wakefulness.

Remember, it may seem tough to get through those few days in hospital but IT’S TEMPORARY!! It’s truly difficult to be on the front end planning and thinking about it.  When you are home after your DIEP flap you’re going to say, “I can’t believe it’s been a week since my surgery and I actually did it!”

Pack light!




References made to my surgical group, surgeon and healthcare team are made because they are aligned with my values and met my criterion after I did research of their practices and success rates. Any other healthcare provider that displays the same skill, compassion education and outreach to patients will be given consideration and recognition on this website.  The information contained on this website is not a substitute for or should be construed as medical advice. Please consult a licensed physician for medical advice.