Understanding the Link Between Breast Reconstruction and Stomach Bloating
Stomach bloating after breast reconstruction can be a frustrating side effect. Discover the potential causes and solutions in this informative post.
During the post-surgery recovery period after DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery, a common question we get asked is “why do I look and feel so bloated?” The truth of the matter is swelling, mild discomfort, and distention are common. Your belly may appear swollen due to a collection of fluid under your belly skin. We refer to this as “Swelly Belly.”
Bloating and swelling will most likely subside by the 12-week mark. However, this is dependent on each individual person and their body habitus. Swelly Belly can be perceived differently by different women; therefore, this can make everyone’s experience with post-operative swelling a little different.
What Can I Do to Lessen the Symptoms?
Post-surgery bloating (AKA “Swelly Belly”) is most often eased with time. In most cases, these symptoms will lessen within 12 weeks, however, some ways to reduce bloating, swelling, and stomach discomfort are:
- Ensure you are maintaining a healthy diet and eating foods rich in fiber to aid in bowel movements. Eating smaller portions more frequently can help alleviate some of the bloating. We also recommend keeping track of what you are eating in a food diary. This can help you notice the foods that cause your “Swelly Belly” to worsen.
- Stay physically active. When you have the clearance to do so we recommend walking 30 minutes per day.
- Continue wearing your surgical garments to reduce swelling.
You can rest assured that post-surgical bloating and swelling is a normal part of the recovery process and will most likely lessen over time.
When Should I Consult with my Doctor?
If your overall quality of life is being affected and even your daily activities are uncomfortable, it might be time to have an evaluation by a physical therapist or your healthcare team.
At PRMA, we are experts in microsurgical breast reconstruction and have over 25 years of experience. We would be more than happy to evaluate your needs and provide you with our medical recommendations. Reach us at 800-692-5565 or schedule a virtual consultation.
Patient Thoughts on Swelly Belly
The term “Swelly Belly” is used every so often on my private Facebook group, DiepCJourney: Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy. Post-surgical swelling can happen no matter what type of surgery one has as the body’s response to healing. When the term is used in relation to the various feelings patients experience in the abdominal area after DIEP flap breast reconstruction, it makes sense the term “swelly belly” was created.
I see the term used in a variety of ways because we are each unique in our perception of this feeling. It is difficult to describe the feeling unless one has had this procedure. I had DIEP flap breast reconstruction and understand the concern. The suggestions in this blog are valuable in self-assessing the symptoms. In addition to what has been written, I would like to add and have heard from others that even before this surgery our tummy would swell up. It often happens at the end of the day, after a full meal, eating certain types of food, traveling, or sitting for prolonged periods of time. After DIEP flap, however, the swelling in the abdominal area feels a bit more pronounced with the tightening down of the abdominal area.
Thank you to PRMA for sharing this information and I encourage you to consider the suggestions in the blog as you deal with swelling in the abdominal area after DIEP flap.
“Set realistic, attainable goals after your surgery. Your body is going to feel different now than it did before surgery. If you are doing it simply to lose weight or get back into a certain dress or pant size you may be setting yourself up for failure. Reset your compass.”