Your DIEP Reconstruction Recovery Process Question Answered

diep questionsThe below question is answered by Charleston breast surgeon, Dr. James E. Craigie. of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction:

I still feel tightness in my chest and stomach after DIEP reconstruction, when can I expect that to improve?

Tightness in the donor site area or tummy depends on how much tissue was taken to rebuild the breast and how much loose tissue was there to begin with.  The scar that results after the healing process can take approximately 6 months to relax and mature.  Therefore, during recovery, the tissues will be stiff for approximately 3 months and as you begin to do more and exercise more, the areas should slowly become less tight, less swollen, and more natural.  Regarding tightness in your chest, it would be unusual for tightness to exist for very long after having reconstruction with your own tissue.  Usually a new healthy breast made from your own tissue will improve tightness or scarring particularly if someone has had reconstruction with implants prior to using their own tissue.  However, if you have had radiation, those changes can be permanent and there may be residual stiffness, but it is very unusual for people in our practice to complain of tightness in the chest area once everything has healed approximately 3 to 6 months after surgery.

-Dr. James E. Craigie

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