What to Communicate with the Radiologist when Imaging the DIEP Flap Reconstructed Breast

What to Communicate with the Radiologist when Imaging the DIEP Flap Reconstructed Breast A Guest blog from Danielle Carroll, MD To image or not to image the reconstructed breast- that is the question…Well, actually the first question.  I am not going to tackle that topic here, but Dr. Chrysopoulo discusses this in his article “Mammograms and MRI after Reconstruction- Are They Needed?” .  However, if you decide to proceed with imaging follow-up, what is important for you to know about imaging the reconstructed breast, and how can you best convey your reconstruction status to the reading radiologist?   The reconstructed breast will undergo many changes over the first several years post reconstruction, some of which will be visible externally, some may only be seen by imaging.  The two most important pieces of information to convey to the scheduler and/or technologist are 1.  Your history of mastectomy with soft tissue reconstruction Continue Reading →

Road Map to Success for DIEP Flap Surgery: Fluorescence Imaging

Road Map to Success for DIEP Flap Surgery: Fluorescence Imaging A Patient’s Story Would you take a road trip before consulting a map, planning out your best route with the least amount of obstacles to drive around or through? Think of the SPY Elite Fluorescence Imaging System in this way for breast reconstruction surgery.  DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery is a specialized and intricate process that women have the option of choosing to rebuild their breasts after a mastectomy.  It is what I chose after a second breast cancer diagnosis. Patients are savvy, engaged, customers these days with the internet and social media to guide them in learning about the surgical procedures that they are facing.  DIEP flap surgery is intricate, long and must be done by a well-qualified microsurgeon. Choosing this profession is a passion for a majority of physicians because they are transforming lives after breast cancer.  It Continue Reading →

Another Amazingly DIEP Story ~ Pregnancy after DIEP flap surgery

Another Amazingly DIEP Story ~ Pregnancy after DIEP flap surgery I have met some amazing women and heard some amazing stories of courage in my breast reconstruction education and outreach. I’ve shared pictures, laughs, tears, fears, and stories of triumph in my conversations with these women warriors. I have chatted with many, not only in the U.S., but across the globe. It truly is what fuels me and energizes me to continue this advocacy. Many of these discussions have become content for my blogs. I have even had the fortune through my travels to meet some in person. Nothing gives me greater joy than sharing my experience and listening to others’ journeys through this breast reconstruction process. It is a shared strength and sisterhood that few understand and appreciate. This week was no different but this event was truly something I had to share and write about. This story, for Continue Reading →

DIEP flap Recovery When you Have Young Children at Home

DIEP flap Recovery When you Have Young Children at Home Recovery from DIEP flap breast reconstruction when you have young children at home is a worrisome consideration. Women are, by nature, care givers. A mother’s thoughts focus on what their physical ability will be after surgery and how they will be able to care for their children once  home and recovering. A mother leaves the house to go to reconstructive surgery and her children see her in a healthy, active state. When she returns home from surgery she will physically be weaker, perhaps a bit hunched over from the abdominal incision and will be very cautious about having children sit on her lap, lift them, hug them or snuggle with them like she used to before surgery. Moms are active and engaged with young children, bending, stooping, lifting and twisting; all activities that must be adjusted after DIEP flap surgery. Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction: Benefits vs. Cosmesis

Breast Reconstruction: Benefits vs. Cosmesis What are breast reconstruction benefits and are the benefits vs. cosmesis equal or separate? Although this question may not have been stated in these words, women considering breast reconstruction must think about this complex question. No one can come close to knowing what this decision involves except the patient themselves. Not only is it a difficult and complex process of logic but it involves a great emotional decision as well. I am speaking about breast reconstruction in very specific circumstances. Humans are faced with many unexpected events in life that catapult us to become educated about a topic we never imagined we would be learning about. A cancer diagnosis or finding that you are BRCA positive is one of those life events. Those who are considering breast reconstruction after cancer or for prophylactic reasons to greatly decrease chances of a cancer occurrence go through great Continue Reading →

One Year Post DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction

One Year Post DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction I am now one year post DIEP flap breast reconstruction. I was finalizing my surgical prep exactly one year ago today as I write this blog. My surgery was the morning of December 1, 2014.  So how am I doing now? How does my body feel? Do I have any regrets? Would I suggest having DIEP flap surgery to other women? Was I truly able to “just get on with it”? I’m doing just splendidly! I honestly believe I’m doing quite well, in fact splendidly, and enjoying many benefits from having DIEP flap surgery after a second breast cancer diagnosis and double mastectomy. I want the reader to know so you have hope. I just opened my social media accounts this morning before I began writing this blog post. I read a statement from a woman who was just going in for her Continue Reading →


Thankfulness A feeling of thankfulness is what I frequently experience when I sit at my keyboard to write. Free flowing thoughts, words, ideas about knowledge, science, medicine, health, life’s experiences are why I love the writing process. My day is not complete unless I have at the very least written down or made note of something I feel is worth writing about to inform and educate others. My daily routine consists of fixing coffee, checking my social media accounts and then organizing my day before I go on my morning walk. Often times a thought, an idea or a topic comes to mind while I am out walking and I’ll come back to my office and act on it. There is nothing like fresh air and getting that blood pumping through your system to fuel some new ideas. There are mornings though that the well seems to be dry. I Continue Reading →

Abdominal Examination before DIEP Flap Surgery

  Abdominal Examination before DIEP Flap Surgery Your plastic surgeon should perform a thorough abdominal examination before your DIEP flap surgery to determine the best possible outcome for your breast reconstruction. It is important to know that the abdominal tissue, both skin and underlying structure, is a reliable donor site to rebuild the breasts after a mastectomy. It is a fair question to ask the office of your plastic surgeon how much time will be spent at your initial consult, and what, if any medical history they will need to have prior to your visit. Your plastic surgeon will review your overall health records. However, for this post I will concentrate on examination of your abdominal area and dedicate another post to your breast area examination. To give you some idea of what will take place and some terms used I took a careful look at my report and will Continue Reading →

Friendships through Breast Reconstruction

Friendships through Breast Reconstruction The value of friendships through Breast Reconstruction is beyond measure. The women that I have met in person or on-line through social media skip straight to, “I feel like I’ve known you a lifetime” mode. Polite introductions are left out and the topics steer straight to the matter at hand: Tell me your story! Where are you at in your process? How are you doing? When is your surgery? How are you feeling? You look amazing! There are options and choices for breast reconstruction. That is part of the discussion among “breast friends”. The real thought provoking conversations start when these questions are raised: How did you find your plastic surgeon? Was it worth it to travel for your reconstruction? Did you have pain? What about the scars? I’m afraid of what I’ll look like. How long do you think it will be before I can Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction Side Effects We Wish We Knew About

Breast Reconstruction Side Effects We Wish We Knew About All of the breast reconstruction side effects we wish we knew about are difficult to cover in the initial consult with your reconstructive surgeon. Why you might ask? It’s simply a matter of time. The key elements of the surgery itself, patient expected outcomes, individual health related issues, medications, recovery time and  other topics need to be covered in your surgical consult with your plastic surgeon. A List of Questions to Take to Your Consult That does not excuse your plastic surgeon, however, from providing you with further information regarding side effects, coping with them, how you will feel months after your reconstructive surgery and the possible emotional and physical impact. You just have to come to the consult prepared and ask.  I would encourage you to ask the following questions during your consult: I know there are going to be Continue Reading →