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Failed DIEP Reconstruction
EFD
8 Posts

Hi there, I'm 59 now and was diagnosed with Lobular and invasive Breast cancers in the Fall 2019. Due to the 4cm size of my tumour, ended up with a lumpectomy then Masectomy in Oct 2019. I waited 2.5 years to have breast reconstruction (couldn't get an appt) and thoroughly researched the DIEP procedure. Found a surgeon I love and went for it on Nov. 8th 2022. 1 surgery turned into 4 within 6 days, and I ended up spending 6 days in ICU on an emotional roller coaster…rebuilt breast was there and looked great, then it failed, back into emergency to clear a blood clot, and then the failure would happen again, usually within about 31 hours.

I was discharged after 7 days in hospital, the last operation was to remove all the tissue on my chest. They did a skin graft from my inner thigh to cover my chest wound, but the surgeon has warned me when they remove the wound plaster that covers my chest next Tues Nov 22nd, it will be worse than when I went in.

Feeling devastated several times over, numb, and not knowing what options I'll have available to me. I wore a prosthesis for 3 years but don't want to live my life like that.

Any/all advice welcome, thanks.

7 Replies
JenG
256 Posts

@EFD oh wow, I am so sorry you've had to go through all of that! of course you are devastated. hopefully you will be given more information (via this site or your appointment) and that will help. Sending you big (but gentle) hugs from afar.

jeng

Cynthia Mac
4209 Posts
EFD‍ , I, too, am sorry that this has been your experience! I hope their prediction for your appointment is wrong.

I think one question I would want to have answered is “Where did all this go so horribly wrong?”
Another might be “Is there anything that can be done to fix any of this?”

I hope you get answers to the questions YOU have and wish the best possible outcome for you.

You can ask to have a copy of your hospital records. There might be a charge attached to it, but they might be worth having.
EFD
8 Posts

@Cynthia Mac Thanks so much for your feedback and advice. You nailed it, that's what I feel I need to know, why did this go so badly? I heard that the 25 rounds of radiation I had on my right chest wall shrunk my blood vessels & artery, but they would have known that since I had a CT Scan with dye. Feel I need to explore this further to better understand, for sure. Thanks again!

EFD
8 Posts

@JenG thanks so much for your response. Yes, I'm on a fact gathering mission. I reached out to an organization called ABCD (After Breast Cancer Diagnosis) based in Wisconsin who were referred to me by my Employer for a mentor, and I'm waiting to be assigned a mentor who has gone through DIEP failure. Hoping to learn what options I have ahead. It was amazing having 2 breasts for the brief time I did have both in hospital, just a gut-wrenching shame the newly built one did not take.

Skye2
303 Posts

@EFD
Wow! That is a tough road to travel. What a courageous and amazing woman you are… I’m so sorry your flap failed and for everything you had to go through, mentally, emotionally and physically.

I opted for breast implants (after double mastectomy), and just had my surgery a few weeks ago. I know that if anything happens, I can have my implants removed and still do a flap, but I don’t know if it can work the other way around, especially with your skin graft. The scar tissue is very fibrous, and doesn’t stretch like natural tissue (I’m an OR nurse).
What about a latissimus dorsi flap (from the back). Could you still do another kind of flap? …would you want to…?

Im sure your surgeon is better able to explain options at this point. I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through.

Sue

EFD
8 Posts

@Skye2 thanks for your support! I still haven't seen the damage from the final surgery where the flap was removed, nor don't know if the skin graft has “taken”, I should have a better idea on Tues. Nov. 22 when we have the big reveal. Stay tuned, I will definitely provide an update.

Thanks for sharing the option you had, that is exactly what I need to know, I want to be armed with questions to ask my surgeon. Also I've been googling the Lattisimus Dorsi flap but want to understand what could go wrong with that (good news is it is still all attached to my blood source. With only a 3% failure rate with DIEP, I'm still in shock that it didn't work for me.

It really helps me to know what others have done/or think, so many thanks again for your feedback.

Skye2
303 Posts

@EFD
…anytime!

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