Flying Home After DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Flying Home After DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery Flying home after DIEP flap  breast reconstruction surgery has the potential of both an emotional and physical impact on the patient. It was both for me and I’d like to share my experience with you. It goes without saying, and as I explained in another travel post, be sure to plan on securing a wheelchair to get you to the gate. It was invaluable for me for two reasons. I didn’t have to worry about walking fast to my next connection and it eliminated excess swelling and pain from walking long distances at the airport. It gets you through TSA much faster, too! Physical Impact Weight Restrictions I highly recommend that you have a travel partner for phase one of DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery. I did and they can do the heavier lifting for you. You will be instructed not to Continue Reading →

DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery~ Phase 2

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DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery ~ Phase 2

PRMA has been kind enough to film this video so that I can explain  DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery, phase 2.  My hope is that this will help other women in preparing and what to expect as you recover from phase 2, the revision and symmetry part of your DIEP flap surgery.  No matter where your surgery is performed I hope the information helps in your planning and the questions you might have going into this part of your breast reconstruction.

The Value of Patient Stories

The marketing representative at PRMA, Courtney Floyd, worked hard to film and edit this and other PRMA videos.  When other women can see and hear first-hand the successes of patients it is a direct reflection of the commitment that this Plastic Surgery group has for women as they rebuild their lives after cancer.

Editing Award

Copy of IMG_3396

I have to chuckle a bit when I listen to the video  that I recorded just three days after my revision surgery.  That breathing tube during surgery can do a number on your vocal chords and I have what I call my “smoky bar voice” in this video.  I can also see that my eyes are still a bit swollen from the surgery.

You will likely be turned a bit on the surgical table that day because of where the surgeon will have to harvest the fat, in my case, from my thighs.  I jokingly told him I’d be turned like a rotisserie chicken.  I remember a very strong looking surgical tech named Nelson before I was put to sleep.  He’s the one to the far right in this picture!  That was the best team ever!!  I just wanted to look at him, knowing he might be the muscles in the group that day and say, “Turn me gently, Nelson, turn me gently!”

Courtney invited me to be a patient advocate.

I’ll chalk this one up to post surgical grogginess but in the video you will notice at one point I use the word “feminism” when I meant to say”femininity”.  Ah well, the life of a post-surgical patient advocate!   I will attest to the fact that Courtney knows her business when it comes to editing these videos so thank you, Courtney, for “bleeping out” any weirdness going on in my head that day trying to get my words out.  I’m handing you the Oscar for best editing award!

Getting Back to Your Routine

Phase 2 is so much easier than phase 1.  It is the icing on the cake.  I flew in to San Antonio on a Wednesday, had surgery on Friday morning and returned the following Tuesday.  I flew back home by myself.  My sister flew in and was there for this surgery but she had to travel back to her own home town. It is very possible to fly out a couple of days after your surgery.  I personally don’t recommend flying home the day after surgery.  Check with your plastic surgeon’s office and discuss this with them if you are driving or flying.

The only discomfort I experienced was from the bruising due to the liposuction itself which was a known part of the procedure for me.  I describe it more as soreness rather than pain. It was completely manageable and walking and moving helped with the soreness.  You will have a weight limitation post-surgery of ten pounds for a week after surgery, as is the case with most surgeries.  I was out taking walks again after being home just one week.  You cannot sleep on your stomach or side for 4 weeks so get those pillows ready for when you arrive home.  I was driving again a week after surgery, but please note that you must be off pain medication when you return to driving.  In fact, I did the grocery shopping by myself.  Just ask the clerks to “lighten your bags” for you.  Take them in one at a time after you get home. Other than the usual post-surgical fatigue and wearing a compression garment for three weeks it was a relatively seamless procedure for me.

Other details

You can shower the day after surgery.  You will have some swelling in your legs as the fluid and bruising gravitate downward and your body works to absorb the extra fluid from surgery and healing.  Wear compression stockings home on the plane or in the car if you are traveling to reduce the possibility of blood clots.

You will likely feel so much stronger after phase 2 than you did coming home from phase 1 but a word of caution…. DON’T OVER-DO IT!!  Guilty as charged on that one.  I had a bit of a set back at week two and just had to tell myself that I had just been through surgery again.  I slowed down week two. Continue to take walks, drink lots of water, and eat healthy meals. Allowe yourself to take daily naps to let your body rest and heal. Take it easy, ladies and take my advice and don’t go back at it too fast.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your success stories, PRMA!

Diagnosis #1

First the Good News You never forget where you were or what you were doing the moment you are told you have cancer, even if it was over a decade ago and the first time. My initial diagnosis was in January of 2002. I was ironing my husband’s shirts and watching a cooking show. It was 9:15 in the morning when I received the call. The doctor started out with the good news first. “Some of the tumors we biopsied were normal, but”… But…… As soon as he said that word “but” I knew. I turned the iron off quickly and sat down and grabbed a pen and paper. I had invasive lobular carcinoma in my left breast.  I began trembling as a tried to write down notes. My handwriting was so shaky I couldn’t even read what I was writing. Meaningless fragments of words appeared on the page. I Continue Reading →