Exercise after a tram flap
Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
Lora Packel MS, PT, Coordinator of Cancer Therapy Services for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:
The tram flap (transverse rectus abdominus myocutaneous reconstruction) uses a piece of the abdominal musculature (rectos Abdominus) to recreate a breast. Although there are other lateral (on the side) abdominal muscles, people tend to feel weakness or back pain with activity.
Exercise, as prescribed by a trained physical therapist, can address weakness through a core stabilization program. This program focuses on body mechanics, posture and strengthening the lateral abdominal muscles and back muscles. This program should be created by a trained therapist who understands that you cannot do abdominal or stomach crunches, as there isn't a muscle to "crunch" in patients who have had a bilateral TRAM procedure.
Penn Therapy & Fitness, the outpatient physical therapy satellites associated with the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, has experience with rehabilitating people after the TRAM procedure. To complement a lifestyle change that includes exercise, you should consider an evaluation by a nutritionist who specializes in oncology.