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How To Prepare For Diep Flap Surgery: Tips For A Successful Procedure

DIEP flap reconstruction utilizes your own tissue to craft natural-looking breasts, leaving minimal scarring at the donor site. Undergoing DIEP flap breast reconstruction can seem daunting, but being prepared and knowing what to expect can help ease anxiety leading up to your surgery. With meticulous planning and coordination, the experienced breast reconstruction surgeons at The Institute provide peace of mind for patients for DIEP flap surgery and recovery. 

This guide covers key preparation tips and information on what to anticipate during your hospital stay through recovery as you prepare for DIEP flap surgery. Being proactive and understanding the process empowers you to have a smooth experience tailored to your needs. Share this resource with your friends and family so they know what to expect, and be sure to prepare any questions for your surgical team.

The Day of Your DIEP Flap Surgery 

On the day of surgery, you’ll arrive at the hospital at the time specified by your surgeon, usually 1-2 hours before the surgery. Do not eat or drink anything starting at midnight the evening before surgery. 

Taking Medications 

Tell your surgeon about all prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements you take. Follow your surgeon's specific instructions on taking medications before surgery. If you have any questions or if something is confusing, let our team know.

What to Bring 

Bring only essential items on the morning of your surgery, including:

  • Insurance cards
  • Photo ID
  • Preoperative paperwork
  • A book or something to do while you wait

Ask a family member or friend to bring items that will enhance your comfort in the hospital for your DIEP flap surgery recovery, including:

  • Loose, comfortable clothes and slip-on shoes
  • Personal electronics such as a tablet/computer, earphones/headphones, and phone charger
  • Toiletries, such as lip balm, lotion, and contact solution
  • Any personal items that make you more comfortable
  • We recommend leaving valuables at home.

TIP: Download our pre-surgery checklist to ensure you pack everything you need!

Belongings Needed for Recovery

Have button-down shirts, loose pants or dresses, slippers, pillows, and blankets available at home to aid in your comfort after surgery. Stock up on easy-to-prepare foods, keep a water bottle handy, and clear your schedule to rest. Don’t be shy about accepting offers to help from friends and family.

What to Wear for DIEP Flap Surgery

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes, and make sure to remove all of your jewelry, including wedding rings and any body jewelry. You will change into a hospital gown for the procedure.

Hospitalization Recovery Post-Op

This section provides helpful DIEP flap recovery tips, including what to expect those first few days regarding pain control, regaining strength and function, observation for proper perfusion, and instructions for going home to continue recovering comfortably. Knowing what to expect for recovery after DIEP flap surgery empowers you to heal smoothly.

What to Expect After Surgery

The initial DIEP flap surgery recovery period involves careful monitoring and management in the hospital. As your body begins healing, you will begin to experience normal postoperative processes, including some pain, swelling, bruising, and drainage. Moving around early is encouraged to prevent complications.

While in the hospital for your breast reconstruction recovery, you can expect:

  • Drainage tubes at the surgical sites that will be removed before discharge
  • Medication for pain and nausea
  • Assistance with daily activities from nurses
  • Monitoring of flap perfusion
  • Instructions on caring for incisions

Pain and Nausea After Surgery 

Pain, bruising, and swelling are common after DIEP flap surgery. Medications will be given to manage pain and nausea, initially through an IV and then via pain pills once you’re able to drink fluids. Let your care team know if you have uncontrolled pain or nausea/vomiting.

When to Take Medications 

  • Take all prescribed antibiotics and pain medications at the directed times after surgery.
  • Take medication with food to prevent nausea and upset stomach.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and increase your fiber intake to help prevent constipation. Take a stool softener and/or laxative if needed.
  • While taking pain medicine, do not drink alcohol or take cold, allergy, or sleeping pills.
  • Notify your doctor if nausea and/or vomiting continue at home.

Length of Hospital Stay After Surgery

Most patients stay 1-2 nights in the hospital after DIEP flap surgery, which allows for close monitoring of flap perfusion, pain control, ambulation assistance, and care instructions after discharge.

Total breast reconstruction (flap surgery) recovery time is generally around 6-8 weeks, at which point most people can resume normal activity.

Tailored Support: Trusting Our Surgeons for Your DIEP Flap Surgery Experience

The expert plastic and reconstructive surgeons at The Institute specialize in DIEP flap breast reconstruction, and our goal is to provide each patient with an exceptional experience, from your first consultation to your recovery. We work with you to understand your needs, tailoring each surgery to your unique anatomy and goals.

You can trust The Institute for the highest level of individualized care. With refined microsurgical techniques, coordinated aftercare, and compassionate support, our team helps ensure a smooth DIEP flap surgery and recovery.

Want to learn more about the risks and benefits of DIEP flap breast reconstruction? Schedule a consultation to discuss your options today.