Chronic Pain After DIEP Flap Surgery–Can You Help?

This week, Dr. Richard Kline of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction answers your questions.

Q: After a double mastectomy in April 2010, my left expander was replaced in June 2010 due to leakage and became infected.

I was hospitalized and given vancomycin and oral antibiotics for almost 3 weeks. Infection spread to right breast and both expanders were removed the same month.

I had DIEP flap surgery in December 2010, but I have had severe pain and shocking sensations in chest, ribs and stomach. My surgeon says he does not know what is causing this pain. Is it the result of nerve damage? And is there any way to fix this?

A: So sorry to hear about your experience! Out of 1,011 flaps to date, we have very few patients with chronic pain, but unfortunately it does sometimes occur. We usually examine the areas in question with a CT and/or MRI, but usually this does not show any abnormalities other than normal post-surgical changes.

In this scenario, we then refer the patients to our pain therapists, who almost always are able to provide significant relief. Please let us know if we can provide additional information.

Dr. Richard M. Kline, Jr.

Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction

Have a question about breast reconstruction you’d like answered from our surgical team? Just ask us!


  1. I also had dbl. Mastectomy with the flap surgery on lft Breast 2 yrs ago. Since then I’ve had chronic intermittent pain in my ribs directly under that breast. In addition, I have odd muscle spasms that feel like something is alive in there.I,ve been seeing a pain specialist and am taking strong meds that do help. I often use ice as well as lidocaine patches to help with the pain. I also developed a lg. Abdominal hernia right above the scare tissue on my abdomine. I’m having surgery tue. At MCV to help correct this and other issues that have developed after the flap surgery. I strongly suggest any women considering this surgical option. Research it. Wish me luck…..

    • me too…had double done and have constant shooting pains from breast to back and just pains in chest area since flap surgery…i would never do again nor reconstruction. surgeon messed me up bad