Quality of Life: DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction

Quality of Life: DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction

Do you ever consider how your quality of life has changed after DIEP flap breast reconstruction?  The study from the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal compares three groups of women; those who have undergone DIEP flap breast reconstruction, women who chose no reconstruction or a method other than DIEP flap, and those in the general population who did not have breast cancer or reconstruction.  The questionnaire studies long-term quality of life after DIEP flap.

A statement from the study:

The DIEP technique also provides better QOL than no breast reconstruction or reconstruction using other methods, according to the study by Dr. Vincent Hunsinger of Georges Pompidou European Hospital, Paris, and colleagues. They write, “Our results indicate that DIEP breast reconstruction allows patients with breast cancer to maintain a good QOL in the long-term.”

The definition of quality from the English Oxford Living dictionary:

The standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.

I did not fill out a questionnaire after my DIEP flap breast reconstruction but I would like to comment on the “degree of excellence”, my own feelings, and about my quality of life two years after having DIEP flap.  Breast reconstruction has evolved over the years.  DIEP flap is considered the “gold standard” by many because the abdominal muscle is sparred and core strength is preserved.  There is far less chance of abdominal wall hernia with DIEP flap surgery.

Pictures speak louder than words.

quality of life: DIEPflap breast reconstruction

I was doing planks before my double mastectomy.  Here is a photo of me two years after my double mastectomy and DIEP flap breast reconstruction.  My abdominal muscles were sparred with core strength preserved.  I am grateful I am living in an era of plastic surgery and I had this option available to me.  Quality of life!

 

 

Did DIEP flap breast reconstruction provide better mental health benefits for you?  It did for me.  This was not an easy decision to make after a second cancer diagnosis and double mastectomy.  The planning, surgery, and recovery was not easy.  The long-term benefits far outweighed any of those factors for me.  Regaining my form and feminine shape, shopping for clothing that fit much better, and not viewing my breast-less torso in the mirror all had positive mental health benefits for me.  I like the soft, warm, natural feel of my breasts.  Quality of life!

I value evidence based studies done by plastic surgeons. It not only validates the intricate work of micro-surgeons but confirms the long-term benefits and quality of life for patients who choose DIEP flap breast reconstruction.  This study was summarized in a video by Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo that you can watch here.

How many months or years post DIEP flap are you?

How did your quality of life change after DIEP flap breast reconstruction?

 

Disclaimer

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.

2 Replies to “Quality of Life: DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction”

  1. Rebecca

    I find myself wishing they would do a long term study on the side effects of DIEP recon. I’m very happy with the results of my surgery, and my ability to change at the gym without feeling self-conscious, but I also have side effects that I didn’t realize. I have sleep apnea, which happened right after the surgery. I also had lymphedema which the doc associated with the flap because otherwise I was at low risk. I think knowing this ahead of time would help doctors and patients look out for it. It would not have changed my decision (I don’t think), just that it would have taken less than a year to get the sleep study done and improved my quality of life the first year after the surgery. But because the plastic surgeon doesn’t look at long-term side effects that are not surgically related, or QoL related, we don’t see it.

    • Terri Post author

      Hi Rebecca. I think this is great insight. I think QoL does change for many after DIEP. It is huge surgery with so much of the body involved in both surgery and recovery. I am certainly going to keep these comments and ideas from you on my radar of things to discuss with the community of plastic surgeons and patients at large. Thanks so much for your comment. Great hearing from you!

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