I agree with MK...if you want a really honest answer, I would say what the doctors give as "word" is not completely correct. I had a TRAM many years ago. I was told that I would be back to my normal self in 6 to 8 weeks, and that I would not only get a bonus "tummy tuck," I would never have to do sit-ups again. I was 5'3", about 115 pounds, and 36 at the time. I really didn't need a "tummy tuck," but I did want to be even, and implants were getting a lot of bad press at the time. I didn't have the option of having both breasts removed...no law guaranteeing that back then.
They had to take both RA muscles to build one breast because I was so thin. I asked about going to physical therapy. I was told that it wasn't necessary, that my other muscles would just "take over," and I would be fine. I couldn't get in my own bed for 5 months, I was so darned tight. I later developed scoliosis from the pull of the muscles on the reconstructed side. I've blown six discs as a result of the scoliosis. Physical therapy every other year or so and religious exercise are all that keep me going.
I will say this: I think, had I gone to physical therapy to begin with (and someoone who specializes in ortho and spine), my story could be different.
You are a dancer. Your obliques and core stabilizing muscles are probably really strong, which would definitely be in your favor...I will admit, I never had great posture, and my core stability has always lacked something. I'm sure this contributed to my later problems.
The therapists I use now, and I went to several before I found someone who was really able to help me and keep me going, use a Pilates-based system. They also use stability balls alot. My obliques are nice and tight now, but the damage to my spine cannot be "fixed." The damage is irreparable, aside from having surgery, and then there are no guarantees, 50/50 chance of being better or worse with surgery, and possibly putting a steel rod in to stabilize the spine. I prefer to stick with the exercise!
My advice would be: get a referral to a really good PT who specializes in ortho and spine rehab. Talk to them about what you are considering, what you want to be able to do, and see if they can keep you doing what you love to do. Then start going to PT as soon after surgery as possible!
I don't think the doctors mean to be dishonest. They just don't understand something they have never experienced. Ironically, my plastic surgeon's nurse was diagnosed with breast cancer about two years after I was. I went in for my annual appointment, and I asked her if she was feeling okay. She told me she had been diagnosed, was going through chemo, and had had a TRAM about 6 months previous. She said, "you know, I am still just so uncomfortably tight...when does that feeling go away???" I had to tell her that, after two years, I was finally feeling less discomfort.
I don't want to discourage you, but please make sure you have good info from someone besides the surgeon and plastic surgeon before making your decision, and a course of action to get back where you want to be, physically.
Sorry so long! Hope this helps.
"There's a difference between a philosophy and a bumper sticker." --Charles Schulz