DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction With Lymph Node Transfer
I came to PRMA seeking delayed reconstruction following chemotherapy, bilateral mastectomy and 33 radiation treatments. As a consequence of my treatments and the loss of 27 lymph nodes, I spent significant effort managing the early stages of lymphedema. I had constant relentless pain which radiated down my arm and swelling most notably in the truncal region. In addition to wearing compression sleeves, I worked with a physical therapist and used a Flexitouch pump daily to manage my symptoms.
The first thing my husband and I felt upon coming to PRMA was the passion these doctors have for helping women in my circumstance to feel whole and healed. There was such compassion and caring and no sense of feeling rushed. Following the early visits and throughout my recovery our nurse was easily accessible to answer questions.
Unlike other clinics we had visited, at PRMA we felt we had a clear understanding of what we could expect with the reconstruction--and the expectations went beyond what we thought possible. At our first visit, Dr. Pisano told us that the clinic was beginning to transfer lymph nodes during the DIEP flap reconstruction. I was eager to give this a try.
Upon waking from surgery, despite the expected discomfort, I noticed immediately a reduction in pain in my arm. I am now 6 months out from surgery and my arm has gone down a whole sleeve size. I no longer experience truncal swelling and my overall range of motion is vastly improved. While I have continued to work with a physical therapist during recovery to manage the effects of scar tissue and to keep ahead of possible changes, lymphedema no longer dominates my every day. I wear a sleeve when I exercise or fly as precautionary measure and I continue to do self massage for lymphatic drainage. I still measure my arm weekly to monitor changes. But my measurements have gone down and the pain in my arm has not returned.
Initially I did not intend to undergo reconstruction. I felt that getting rid of the cancer was enough. Living with the tightness of the scars and the swelling and pain in my arm compelled to seek other options and I am so grateful that I did. I would encourage any woman in my situation to visit PRMA for a consultation.