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Avatar universal

Post breast reconstruction problems,exercise?

I had a bilateral tramflap surgery two years ago. My lower abdomen still tightens into a hard ball upon doing any moving (even walking).I have lost 30 pounds since the surgery, got a "free tummy tuck" with the surgery, so am dissapointed with the appearance of my bulging stomach. It is hard as a rock and very uncomfortable-it is even difficult to turn over in bed.My surgeon told me(before I was released)that it was caused by the missing abdominal muscle,and that I should strengthen the obliques.I have found that in exercising them,the pronounced tummy area only gets worse.Do others have the same problem? Were they sent to therapy to help regain the strength? Although the surgery went well and I am happy not to have hollows were my breasts were, I'm regretting the fact that I may have pain upon lifting,walking,bending,etc. for the rest of my life.I also can't find any bra that will stretch across my wide,flat breasts. Although small,there is still enough bounce (and reconstructed nipples) to make me self-concious without a light bra when dressing up.Any advice you may have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
17 Responses
Avatar universal
Dear grammadonna, It sounds as if this may be a hernia.  You may want to check back with your surgeon to reevaluate.  

In terms of a well fitting bra, ask around in your local area for a store that does measurements and fittings, for women who have had breast surgery.  Your local American Cancer Society, or your surgeon's office may be able to recommend places for you to check out in your area.
Avatar universal
While I had saline implant reconstruction, I can tell you I have the same problem with bras.  My shape is just different and still pretty small, and all bras sort of gape at the top where the implant ends.  

I got those silicon "falsies" that you put in your bra when I am going somewhere special and want to feel just more filled out and confident that there won't be bunchy fabric showing under my shirt.

Is there any possibility of getting an implant put in, even though you've had the tram?  Just to give you some extra shape?

I wish I could tell you something about the abs.  I'd personally go see a new plastic surgeon just as a consult, to get a fresh opinion from someone who maybe has new ideas.  Just my 2 cents.

Good luck!
Avatar universal
It sounds like you have an incisional hernia, which is not rare after tram flap. If your plastic surgeon isn't sure, you should consider seeing a general surgeon. It may or may not be easy to fix, given the surgery you had; but "hard" suggests a hernia rather than lax muscles.
Avatar universal
I've not had the surgeries you've had but do have problems with finding a bra that fits.  I hate wearing them and have pretty well quit.  When modesty requires some kind of cover up, I usually opt for a camisole -- some of them are even somewhat fitted.
Avatar universal
Thank you all for your help. I will try a camisole and looking for a fitter. My surgeon insisted I did not need a bra, but he doesn't understand. I'm afraid to have implants after my brush with cancer. My surgeon assured me that I did not have a hernia, as the entire tummy area goes from relaxed into a knot upon use. He seemed to think this would go away after time (this has been the situation since the surgery), but it doesn't get any better. I just wondered if anyone else had this occur. I think checking with another surgeon was a good idea. Thanks, everyone.
Avatar universal
I had a tram flap and implants and feel like I have been bound with metal. I can't turn over at night or lift my arms freely over my head.  I am going to another plastic surgeon and will probably have the implants removed. I feel like mine might be scar tissue. Does anyone else feel that when they lay down a bind goes around the chest, shoulders and arms?
Avatar universal
If you are looking for a bra to help with a little extra coverage, I love the Barely There bras. I had a bilateral mastectomy and lattisimus flap reconstruction.  I have not had my nipples done yet but am selfconcious about the circle area where they will be.  These bras help with coverage and are very stretchy and actually comfortable.  Kind of remind me of training bras!
Avatar universal
Gethayes, Bound with metal describes it perfectly! It's so hard to explain to anyone how I feel. Of course, it gets better with time, but I still very uncomfortable, wrapped up, and at times would like to rip my chest and stomach off to have freedom! I hope things get better for you. Please let me know how you do. I will keep checking!
Conn480, Would you tell me where I could purchase the "Barely There" bras? They sound perfect, but I don't remember seeing them.
Avatar universal
I had bi-lat masts 12/03...and both tissue expanders had to be removed due to massive infection.  I have elected not to pursue implants, so I just have these giant scars and "wings" (extra skin towards my back) BUT I feel every day like I have a metal band (like a wine cask) around my chest and at the end of the day while it's not really "painful" it is a lot of pressure. I have been able to acheive all my pre-surgery movement etc. and have lifted weights off and on, but feel no different...funny how no one tells nor prints about how you're gonna feel after mastectomies.  Good luck!
Avatar universal
Carme, Oh, I'm so sorry to hear how your surgery turned out! I guess I shouldn't complain. The tightness and pressure you claim to have sounds like what I feel like fom the armpits down. I wish the doctor had advised me about this, if I'd ever known, I would never have had it done. I was undecided about the surgery, and he assured me it would be a "piece of cake" and that I would feel like new. The web sites that I researched before making this decision did not mention it either. Hope you find comfort, I would stay away from the implants, can't see that helping the situation. Grammadonna
Avatar universal
I had to have my tissue expander removed due to infection while undergoing chemotherapy in 1987. My plastic surgeon told me to "put a sock in my bra" until I could resume the plastic surgery. Well, I decided to not reconstruct for various reasons. Then once I found a good prosthesis and bra(which insurance is required to pay for every other year), I felt so much better. My "breast" looks and feels natural. The only bother with the external prosthesis, is I wish I could go braless when it is hot. The prosthesis can get kind of sweaty. As far as pain across the chest I have found stretching and massaging the site to be helpful with the pain.
Avatar universal
I had the TRAM flap reconstruction 15 years ago..
My stomach wall was immediately afterwards and still is as
tight as a drum when I'm standing.  And the size of a 6-7
month pregnancy.  I have always felt that it was swollen,
and the surgeon even tried drawing off fluid with a syringe.
There was none.  He had no suggestions and I gave up.
In addition to this, if I bend to one side or the other, there's
a pain, as if something is twisted.  I've decided this must be
the mesh.  Also, there's the lack of feeling in the abdominal
area, which makes it rather hard to navigate a room full of
furniture or people.  All in all, I would never do it again.
I was supposed to return for a breast reduction on the
opposite side, but couldn't bring myself to undergo another
Avatar universal
Thank you all for your comments. It's so nice to hear from others who have been through the same thing. I'm just sad to hear that others have had bad experiences as well. I wish we had been better informed about these procedures. Emmalee, my heart goes out to you, I know exactly what your talking about. I'm always afraid someone will ask me when I'm expecting! I guess I have to accept this as forever, but I agree, I would never have done this if I'd known. Thanks again, everyone. God bless.
Avatar universal
I had breast reconstruction surgery six years ago.  For the  past six months, I have been waking up in the middle of the night with extreme pain in the reconstructed breast.  I don't do alot of exercise or anything, but it almost feels like a pulled muscle.  Before this, everything went well, but now I am worried that something is wrong with this breast.  What should I do?
Avatar universal
A related discussion, bilateral tram internal pain? was started.
Avatar universal
A related discussion, getting bi-lateral mastectomy&no reconstruction ever! was started.
Avatar universal
A related discussion, How common is Paget's reoccurrence? was started.
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