While your doctors will equip you with the best knowledge before and after your DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery, there is one thing they probably won't be an expert in: DIEP flap recovery bras. That's where we come in!
We know how overwhelming recovery can be, so we are here to give you a few tips and tricks on how to feel your best after your DIEP flap surgery while you heal. But before we get started, let's cover the basics, including a brief primer on what to expect after DIEP flap surgery.
WHAT IS DIEP FLAP SURGERY?According to BreastCancer.org, a DIEP flap surgery is a breast reconstruction method where "fat, skin and blood vessels are cut from the wall of the lower belly and moved up to your chest to rebuild your breast." During this microsurgery, a specialized surgeon will carefully reattach the blood vessels of the flap to blood vessels in your chest. Due to the relocation of skin, fat and blood vessels from the original belly area to the breast, a DIEP flap surgery will leave your tummy tighter and flatter, similar to the effects of a tummy tuck. This surgery will also leave a long horizontal scar between your hip bones.
The DIEP flap procedure requires specialized surgical training and microsurgery experience, therefore not all surgeons or hospitals are able to offer it. If you are interested in learning more about DIEP flap reconstruction, we encourage you to speak to your doctors to see if it makes sense for you!
Previvor, Mackenzie recovering from her DIEP flap in her Front Closure Bra. Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Alleman
DIEP FLAP RECONSTRUCTION RECOVERY TIPSOne of the first things you may be wondering is "How long does it take to recover from a DIEP flap surgery?" It can often about six to eight weeks until you're completed healed, so it's important to prepare for the recovery process.
While the main focus of your DIEP flap surgery are your breasts, you may find you have some healing to do in your abdominal area as well. As DIEP flap previvor, Mackenzie Alleman, recalls, "The aftermath of the abdominal area wasn't as prominently discussed [as the breast area]. I wish there was more discussion about the abdomen and how the swelling there continues for so long."
Because of this additional healing area, you will need lots of extra help in the weeks following your DIEP flap breast surgery. Your overall movement and range of motion will be deeply impacted after surgery due to the tightness in your abdominal in addition to your chest area. Prepare for your breast surgery by studying our Recovery Guide for mastectomy and reconstruction surgery advice and consider preparing with the following items that can help aid you during DIEP flap healing:
- Ask your partner or caregiver to keep all your needed items (like pre-poured glasses of water) at waist level so you can reach them without straining yourself.
- Invest in a shower chair or stool after surgery that you can sit on while showering. This will give you much needed relief to your abdominal area and allow you to conserve energy, even while you shower.
- Install a detachable shower head if you don’t already have one. This will make showering in your chair much easier for you and will also allow for your caregiver to assist you if needed.
- Get a step stool to use while getting in and out of bed, as well as in and out of your car. It may sound strange but because of the effects of DIEP flap surgery, the abdomen is extremely tight, so making big steps on your hard may prove to be hard on your own.
These simple hacks and gadgets can help you feel more comfortable and allow your body the much-needed ease it needs after undergoing DIEP flap reconstruction surgery.
BRAS FOR DIEP FLAP BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERYThere are some key differences between DIEP flap tissue reconstruction and traditional breast reconstruction after mastectomy. With a DIEP flap surgery, for example, your reconstructed breasts are made out of your own tissue, but will function differently than your pre-surgery breasts.
Your new F(oo)B tissue will most likely be heavier than you are used to, so you may not be able to adjust your DIEP flap reconstructed F(oo)Bs into tops or traditional bras the way you used to. Underwire bras will be extremely uncomfortable and not permitted, and push-up bras will be straight-up impossible to wear. These limits can be very frustrating at first, so it helps to have some alternative options at the ready so you can feel just as comfortable and confident as usual.
You will want uber-soft, yet supportive bras that will hold the weight of your new breast tissue without the restrictive discomfort of a traditional bra. The Monica Bra is the ultimate cloud-soft, full-coverage style. It provides unparalleled support and is so comfortable, you'll forget you are even wearing it. Designed with care, the wire-free DIEP flap bra lays smoothly over the body without causing any kind of constrictions, making it a great option to wear against your sensitive skin after surgery. This style will work post-surgery but will also care for your sensitive scars and skin through radiation treatment and beyond.
The Monica provides the smoothest, softest fit and feel as you recover from your DIEP flap breast surgery.
Once you are farther along in your DIEP flap healing process, The Molly Bra is a beautiful stepping stone back into the world of sexy lingerie. Just as soft as the Monica Bra and made with the same super-soft modal material, The Molly introduces a sensual deep V-neck silhouette and flirty construction details without sacrificing comfort, stability, versatility or support.
A post-surgery top seller, our wireless Front Closure Bra, is another recommended and easy choice after your DIEP flap tissue surgery. Front-closing bras allow for ease when dressing after reconstruction or mastectomy surgery, which is important when you have restricted range of motion in addition to your soreness. It also allows you to adjust the fit for your own custom support and preference with convertible straps. Super-soft, comfortable and fashionable, the front closure bra for reconstruction surgery and all our bras in our DIEP flap post-surgery bra collection will help you to focus on healing and feeling your best.
The Molly Bra will support your new f(oo)bs no matter what size reconstruction you decide on.
BOTTOMS TO WEAR AFTER DIEP FLAP AND RECONSTRUCTION SURGERYAs mentioned before, your abdominal area will be sensitive, feel tight and require a lot of special care and attention when it comes to dressing yourself.
After your first surgery, ultra-soft, non-restrictive bottoms and pants will be your new essentials. When shopping, look for non-compressive leggings, lounge pants and harem pants that are easy to put on, take off and don't strain your abdominal surgical site. After your Stage 2 surgery, you will most likely be required to wear high-waisted compression leggings while you recover.
When shopping for underwear, high-waisted styles with temperature control will not interfere with your abdominal scars and will keep you supported and comfortable. Once you've healed, our Jennifer Boyshorts provide a super-breathable to keep you comfortable. This style also features soft, stretchy materials that won't irritate scars or sensitive skin. This post-surgery underwear will simplify many of the challenges that come from undergoing DIEP flap surgery for breast cancer.
Another option for lounging around the house is to pair your favorite new post-surgery bra and panties with a simple robe. Our Miena Robe is the ideal solution since it's made of super-soft and lightweight material. Simply tie it loosely in the front and you won't have to worry about causing irritation to sensitive areas while you heal. You can also use the included inner belt with pouches for easy and convenient drain management post-surgery.
“The Jennifer Boyshort is the most comfortable underwear ever. After my DIEP flap reconstruction, most underwear is now not just uncomfortable but painful on my scar. Enter the Boyshort and the buttery material...aaaahhhh.” -Linda W.
It can be tough sometimes to find informational conversations surrounding DIEP flap reconstruction healing or surgery, so we hope these recovery and fashion tips for after your flap tissue reconstruction will help make your surgical and healing journey that much easier.
Have a few of your own DIEP flap healing tips and tricks? Share them with us in the comments below.