DIEP Flap Reconstruction Healing Abdominal Scar 13Weeks
Brought to you by popular demand…because you asked for it…HEALING FOOBS!

The beginning, middle, and well 13ish weeks out of recovery and healing from my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and DIEP flap tissue reconstruction!

I’m starting this by prefacing that:

A >> My complications sucked – but ultimately in the grand scheme of things weren’t that bad looking back. I do not regret any of the decisions I have made. I still have Phase 2 touch ups to be done as well.

B >> During said complications while I felt frustrated and exhausted, I never lost faith in my Doctors and PAs. It’s important to find the right Doctors for you!

C >> Did everything I could to keep clean and follow orders – I’m so OCD – infections just happen.

D >> I am not making this post to scare or discourage any of you. If you have ANY questions at all please ask, don’t sit there quietly and feel alone. If I don’t have an answer, I will help you search for one, and at the very least encourage you and be an empathetic shoulder to lean on. I’m also showing you photos from week 2 – week 13 because even if you can’t look at the in betweens or get scared at the infection ones…fast forward to the bottom to see how freaking amazing they became.

DD >> ehhh, get it? Ugh, I crack myself up and that’s all that matters! Most of these photos were taken while laying down – my PAs at The Center were receiving these beauties daily and they wanted angles from below often – so yeah…like the worst thing you can do when taking a selfie. Like #worst!

Now for the goods…

Week 2 >> Still have abdominal drains down there. The breast incisions are dark and raised as the sutures are still holding tight – if you see any flaking that is the surgical glue they used over top of the incisions as well. My chest surgical glue held on for about 3-4 weeks. Note the bruise on the left nipple – you’ll watch it disappear over time. It was important we watched it closely to ensure it was indeed just bruising and not necrotic.

Mastectomy Diep Flap Recon Oct31

Note >> The below picture you can see some redness of the breast/skin – this was the beginning of my first infection. During this infection I had some discharge during bandage changing as well. I however never had a temperature – something to check regularly to ensure you catch any infections. It’s important to watch colors, feel temperature and softness of breast, and discharge!

Mastectomy DIEP Flap Recon Week 2 Right breast

Mastectomy DIEP Flap ReconWeek 2 Left Breast

Week 3 >> The orange color on my breasts throughout this whole process is iodine > which my doctor had me swabbing incisions with due to the infections. Here you can see the redness is gone – yay antibiotics!

Note >> My belly is a bit swollen still – this went down over time. However – my belly is also a little oddly shaped from the DIEP Flap procedure – similar to a tummy tuck, as they took the tissue to reconstruct my breasts. In my phase 2 lipo of my belly will take care of that.

Mastectomy DIEP Flap Recon Week 3

Note>> The bruising was getting better here.


Mastectomy DIEP Flap Recon Week 2 Left Breast

 

Note >> Alright again the flake isn’t skin – it is surgical glue. Notice the small spot that was opening and the white colored ball/dot in the middle. This freaked me out!!! Then we sent photos to the PA – that is what is called Granulation Tissue – it is new tissue forming trying to heal and pull the gap together. This breast was the infected one and was having trouble closing.


Mastectomy DIEP Flap Recon Week 3 granulation tissue right breast

NOTE >> My brand new belly button (they took my old one), the dark is healing skin and the flakes…you guessed it, surgical glue. The abdominal incision was healing well on the outside hip bits at this point. You can see in the front where it’s not wanting to close. At this point my doctor was telling us to keep watching it and we were swabbing with betadine/iodine to help protect from infections. 
DIEP Flap Recon Abdominal Incision Week 3

>>Week 3 – End of the week –  My doctors were fine with what this looked like – but we were still swabbing it daily.


Mastectomy DIEP Flap ReconWeek 3 Left Breast

Note >> The gaping continues – the infection was clearing up and my incision was still gaping. This is when they sent me this magical bandage called Mepilex Boarder. I placed it on this breast for 3 days and waited.

Mastectomy DIEP Flap ReconWeek 3 Infection Right Breast
Mastectomy Diep Flap Recon Mepilex Boarder bandage

 

Week 4 >> This is when things with my abdominal incisions were looking pretty bad and I later chose to travel back to have my second surgery to clean it and close it.

Mastectomy Diep Flap Recon Week 4

Mepilex Boarder >> For the WIN! I was shocked at how awesome this looked when we took the bandage off. We did replace it and had another one on for a bit – totaling 10 days of Mepilex. It was at this time I wanted the DR. to tell me to put it on everywhere. Seriously, wrap me in Mepilex please! (We didn’t though).

MastectomyDIEP Flap Recon Mepilex Results

 

Note >> Again – the orange is iodine. You’ll notice though that this, now the other breast has a gap. I was still on antibiotics at this point and my body was trying it’s hardest. Ultimately when I went back in to fix my abdominal incision Dr. Blum put a few stitches in there and cleaned it right up!

Mastectomy DIEP Flap Recon Week 3 Left Breast

WARNING >> This photo was the worst of it – but not the worst photo I have in my posession!  So this was my complication and what ended up sending me back to The Center. I have since found out this isn’t as uncommon as I felt at the time. However – I also know plenty of women who don’t have issues. This is when my Dr. gave me two options – #1 pack the wounds with saline and sterile gauze or #2 come back in to have the abdomen cleaned out and stitched back up. I went with choice #2, because yuck! Glad I did because from there they caught a nasty MRSA culture and put me on much harsher antibiotics.

 

mastectomy DIEP Flap Recon Abdomen Week 4

 

Week 8 >> Yasssss! This was when I started to feel much better. I was still in a bit of pain from my second surgery. However, you can see how well things had started to heal. The left breast had the stitch, the right gap had been fixed by the Mepilex.

Mastectomy DIEP Flap Reconstruction Week 8

Mastectomy Diep Flap Reconstruction Week 8 Right Breast

 

Note >> You’ll see small scabs here but it’s healing well.

Mastectomy DIEP Flap Reconstruction Left Breast Week 8

AND >> Finally my abdomen is closed and I felt much more secure in my movements and recovery.DIEP Flap Reconstruction Abdominal Incision Week 8

Week 13 >> The end of the line and your reward for looking at all the disgusting moments above! GO YOU!


Mastectomy Diep Flap Reconstruction 13Weeks

 

Nipple Sparing Mastectomy Diep Flap Recon Week13 Right Breast

Note >> The small spot next to the nipple is a scab and loose suture that I’m waiting on to fall off.

NippleSparingMastectomy Diep Flap Reconstruction Week 13 Left Breast

 

DIEP Flap Reconstruction Abdomen and Breast Scars Week 13

 

Lastly >> This right here is one of the dog ears I’ve talked about. The way they cut the DIEP Flaps leaves you with an odd little shape until phase 2. One of the most noticeable things are my dog ears – where my hips come to a point and the top part slightly flops over. This again – will be adjusted in phase 2. ALSO, DAMN LOOK AT THAT BEAUTY. I’m not seeing a need for scar revisions in phase 2 at all!

DIEP Flap Reconstruction Abdominal Scar 13Weeks

 

That’s enough of all that!

I think it’s important to note that you should totally take pictures. We took daily photos (many of which I deleted) but it gives you a chance to look back at days and compare the healing. Was that red yesterday? Is this a new gap or is it getting better? I’ll be honest, I had a hard time looking at them during the moments, they were discouraging. I was in the middle of something that felt never ending. BUT looking back now…I’m in shock. How did it come this far >>> this quickly?!

i hear it’s sunnier…

…when you don’t have gaping holes in your abdomen…

…your left breast isn’t ooozing puss…

…that granulation tissue is closing you up…

…and you only have the normal amount of holes in your body that a human is supposed to have!

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P.S. I’m sorry – that ended differently than I saw in my mind – #TRUTHBOMB

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Written by Mackenzie
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