This week, Dr. Richard M. Kline, Jr. of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction answers your questions.
Q: After having a DIEP flap breast reconstruction, is it okay to sleep on my side instead of my back?
A: Eventually. We generally like people to sleep on their back for at least two months to avoid any chance of crushing the flap. After that, we transition to side sleeping if all is going well.
Q: Right after having a DIEP flap breast reconstruction, is there a risk of having circulation problems? What should I be watching for?
A: I’m assuming you mean circulation problems in the new flap. Yes, there is a risk, and that is the primary reason we keep you in the hospital for at least 4 days for careful observation. If a problem with circulation does develop after surgery, the success rate of fixing it is usually pretty good if the problem is caught early. The risk of having a problem decreases as time elapsed since surgery increases. In almost 100 flaps, we have had 2 flaps develop problems 3 days after surgery, 1 flap developed problems 4 days after surgery, and one developed problems 5 days after surgery. We have had a few problems with bleeding or wound healing later than that, but no problems which put a flap in jeopardy. Nonetheless, it could happen.
Q: I had a DIEP flap breast reconstruction two weeks ago. What is the possibility of the flap failing? What should I be watching for?
A: Our overall flap failure rate is about 1.6%. Once you get beyond a certain point, however, the chance of the flap failing gets much less than that. (see above answer)
Have a question about breast reconstruction you’d like answered from our surgical team? Just ask us!