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Recovering after a mastectomy can be a stressful time, after dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Whether you had surgery as part of breast cancer treatment or to prevent cancer, knowing what to expect after surgery can make the recovery process a bit easier.
The team at Bedford Breast Center in Beverly Hills, California, wants to help alleviate your anxiety throughout your mastectomy journey. We are a clinic created by women, for women to ensure you get the best possible care. Our all-female team has a list of mastectomy recovery tips to support you in the process, including our top five must-haves for a comfortable, restful recovery.
What to Expect After a Mastectomy
Some discomfort is expected after a mastectomy, which is why we prescribe pain medication to all our mastectomy patients. Depression can also be a byproduct of your surgery, as you grapple with the reality of your diagnosis and treatment. A support group of other women who have had a mastectomy can help you feel less alone and encourage you during your recovery. Our team is also a phone call away to answer questions and provide support when you need it.
While you should avoid any strenuous activity, such as lifting or other intense activity, there are some gentle exercises you can do to assist the healing process. We will provide you with guidelines to help you stay active without compromising your recovery.
You need to give your body the rest it needs to heal. This means enlisting assistance from a supportive group of friends and family members that can help with errands, childcare, cooking, cleaning, and laundry. It’s a good idea to line up your network ahead of time if possible, so you can focus on healing your body while you let others do the heavy lifting for a short time.
Most Important Items to Have at Home Post Mastectomy
The recovery process requires some time and plenty of self-care. Get more comfortable and worry less about what to wear after your mastectomy with these five recovery must-haves:
Drains are a common part of the mastectomy recovery process. These drains will relieve some of the pressure in your chest and help remove the excess fluids to prevent infection. They will be held in place with stitches and surgical tape.
You will need to keep your drains dry while showering, which is where a lanyard can be extremely helpful. You can purchase a lanyard specifically designed for mastectomy drains or use a regular lanyard and extra large safety pins.
Mastectomy pillows are a great item to keep over (or under) your shirt during your mastectomy recovery. This pillow helps protect your stitches and incision area. You can place it over your chest and under your arms to provide extra padding and support.
The added padding from the pillow can ease the discomfort you might notice when you hug others or wear a seatbelt. You can buy these pillows online without a prescription from your doctor.
Front Button Clothing
Clothing is another consideration during your mastectomy recovery. Reaching your arms above your head to get dressed in the morning may be painful or impact your stitches. Clothing that buttons in the front, such as a mastectomy recovery shirt are comfortable options during this time.
Whatever shirt you wear, make sure it’s loose fitting to help prevent incision site chafing. Another comfortable option is buying a cotton cami. These stretch enough that you can step into them and pull them over your body without raising your arms over your head. The soft fabric will also feel good against your skin.
After surgery, you may find a daily shower is a challenge. Cleansing wipes can be a good alternative on days when showering feels like too much to attempt. You can also use these wipes to clean around your drains and stitches. We will show you how to clean these areas without disrupting your healing process.
Other products that may make your daily bathing routine easier include:
- 2-in-1 shampoo to minimize hair washing time
- A shower seat to conserve energy, allowing you to sit and relax while bathing
- A detachable shower head to help reduce movement and arm raising
You may wake from your surgery with a sore throat, due to the tube placed in your windpipe during the procedure. Throat lozenges can help. In addition to your prescription pain medicine, Advil and Tylenol are good to have on hand. Ice packs can help reduce residual swelling. We will give you instructions on different items you will want to have on hand to ensure your recovery is as comfortable as possible.
After surgery, your drains and incisions will be covered with a sterilized dressing. We will remove this dressing after a few days, but you may want to keep some gauze pads on hand for extra protection while showering once the dressings are off.
Contact Our Mastectomy Surgeons For More Information
Your mastectomy recovery is a process. It can take several weeks to months to feel like your normal self again. However, you don’t have to journey alone. At Bedford Breast Center, we want to take this journey with you and support you every step of the way. Contact our Beverly Hills, California center for more information and tips about your mastectomy recovery.