The key to this answer is that DIEP or Implant based reconstruction is in fact “a process”. No patient wakes up with a complete breast consisting of a skin envelope, tissue or an implant to make it protrude, and a nipple-areolar complex. It requires several stages before the reconstructive process is complete. Only the first stage (either the DIEP or insertion of the tissue expander) is a procedure that requires hospitilization. The other stages are all ambulatory procedures that have minimal recovery. Some in fact, (nipple reconstruction or tatoo placement) can be done in the office.
A rough estimate of the total reconstructive process in an woman who is undergoing IMMEDIATE DIEP or implant based reconstruction without the knowledge of the final pathology available at the the time of initial consultation is 3-9 months. Obviously, the need for chemotherapy, possible need of radiotherapy, and allowing for time for vacation, breaks and possible complications, all play a role in total time until completion. The reconstructive process is obviously much quicker when there is no need for chemotherapy (ie delayed reconstruction or when done for prophylactic reasons BRCA etc).