What does a typical recovery look like after DIEP flap breast reconstruction?

Any surgical recovery covers a spectrum and it will largely depend on the individual and how prepared they are physically/mentally entering surgery. Overall, we say DIEP flap breast reconstruction recovery is 6-8 weeks. This does not mean that you necessarily need to take that much time off work. Typically around week 3-4 patients are feeling much more like themselves and are beginning to incorporate physical activity back into their lives. During your hospital stay physical therapy will be seeing you daily and this may be arranged following your discharge from the hospital to expedite your recovery. You will need to wear the support bra and abdominal binder for approximately 1 month following surgery as your body recovers and heals. You will be allowed to take brief showers, but we ask you do not tub bath or submerge the incisions under water (ocean, pool, tub…) until cleared by your physician. Though this recovery is slightly longer than implant reconstruction, research has shown that those women who elected to use their own tissue instead of implant breast reconstruction are more satisfied with their overall outcome[1].

[1] Mestak O. Comparison of patient-reported outcomes after implant versus autologous tissue breast reconstruction using the BREAST-Q. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2017.

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