A Personal Account of the LD Reconstruction

 When I asked some ladies who have had breast cancer for their stories to share, a lady responded and said she’d be happy to share her account of the LD (latimuss dorsi – back flap) reconstruction. However, the more I spoke with her, the more her story became very interesting because she’s had cancer twice and it’s been different each time. I knew that could happen but had never heard of it actually happening to anybody. It doesn’t necessarily mean that if the cancer comes back it will be a more aggressive type and it just seems to be “pot luck” or “pot unlucky” as to what you get. Anyway, this lovely lady has been through the mill but does have a happy ending!

Here is her story:

Well this is my journey and I hope it helps somebody who's looking for some information about the LD reconstruction.

In November 2009 I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my right breast. The cancer was Grade 3 and HER2+. I was told that I could have a lumpectomy which I was very relieved about and I had the lumpectomy first followed by chemotherapy, radiotherapy and then, because it was HER2+, I had 18 treatments of Herceptin. In 2009, the Herceptin treatments were given by drip but I think it’s now given as injections. So all in all, my treatment lasted a little over 18 months. In November 2011 I had a mammogram and that was all clear. I was then discharged by the Oncology Team and referred to the Breast Unit to have regular check ups.

My first appointment with the Breast Unit was in May 2012 and they found a lump in my left breast. This time, it was Grade 3 (the same as before) but it was Triple Negative and not HER2+. I was referred back to Oncology and they gave me the choice of a lumpectomy or mastectomy to that breast. I decided to have a single mastectomy because I really didn’t want to go through everything again. We discussed all reconstruction options but I didn’t have enough fat on my tummy area for the DIEP reconstruction and I was told that although I could have implants, there was less chance of rejection and my breast would have a more natural feel/look if I had the LD reconstruction and nipple reconstruction at the same time (using the skin from my back as well). I have never been offered tattooed nipples but I’m quite happy with my reconstructed ones so that’s not a problem for me.

The operation took 6 hours and when I woke up, I was in pain for a few days but this did get better. For the first day or two, it’s really important to keep the breast area warm (to aid the blood supply) so the nurses put a special heat blanket on me. I also had 3 drains in the breast that were draining the fluid away and the fluid reduced significantly over the next 5 days. I was discharged from hospital after 5 days and went home. I had to wear a soft bra for 6 weeks (all day and all night) to help with the healing process and I wasn’t too uncomfortable but sleeping was a bit difficult so my husband temporarily moved into the spare room. Some ladies find a V shaped pillow helpful for support (the type used during pregnancy).

In January 2015 I made the decision to go back and have a mastectomy on my right side (the side that had the HER2+ cancer). I made this decision because I wanted to be in control before any new cancer made the decision for me.

This operation took a little longer than the first mastectomy and was 7 hours but I recovered very well afterwards. I was given an injection in my back during the operation which really with the pain management.

Both scars on my back are covered by my bra (not everybody’s scar will be hidden by their bra because of their anatomy as it can be above or below the bra line). As this procedure uses the muscle from the back, it’s fairly common that patients can have some restriction or pain in the back area as an ongoing issue. I do get uncomfortable sometimes in my back area but I have absolutely no regrets and am now over 4 years clear.