Recovery from DIEP Flap Surgery
The DIEP Flap breast reconstruction procedure is a highly sophisticated procedure that requires more recovery than other forms of breast reconstruction. Following the procedure, the patient should expect to remain in the hospital for approximately three to five days. After 24-48 hours, the patient should begin to walk around their room and hospital floor on a limited basis to exercise the lungs, increase blood flow, and speed-up the healing process. By 72 hours after the surgery, most patients are walking, sitting upright, and taking only pain pills by mouth. By the fifth day, patients have been released from the hospital to their homes for further recovery. Drains are a major part of the recovery process, and frankly, they are also the part of recovering that patients find the most bothersome. They are a “part” of you for approximately two weeks and the surgeons as well as the nursing staff will instruct you on the proper care prior to leaving the hospital.
Patients can expect to be fully mobile within 10-14 days following the DIEP flap procedure and be able to return to their normal activities, including work, after about 4 weeks. Strenuous activities including exercise can usually be resumed at about 8 weeks from surgery.
It can be said that recovery from a DIEP Flap surgery even starts before the procedure. We advise patients to increase their physical activity with their primary care physician’s approval, as increased physical activity preoperatively will help accelerate the healing process by contributing to improved physical conditioning and restoring or invigorating a sense of overall well-being.