Personal items (eyeglasses, toothbrush, hairbrush, slippers, earplugs)
Music player and headphones, audiobooks, light reading
Leave valuables (such as jewelry) at home
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU WAKE UP FROM SURGERY
Your doctor will place an IV, and have compression devices on your legs to avoid clots. There will also be a catheter in place collecting urine.
Jackson-Pratt (JP) drain
If you are having a mastectomy (or sometimes for lumpectomy with reconstruction), you will have a JP drain for the first 1-2 weeks after surgery.
This device promotes healing and reduces the risk of infection by suctioning and collecting fluid from your surgical area.
Refer to your nurse navigator for specific drain care instructions.
PAIN CONTROL DURING MASTECTOMY RECOVERY
Your doctor will give you pain medication through your IV right after surgery
It is recommended to take your pain medication at home on a regular schedule to help control your pain. Healing and recovery improve with good pain control.
Avoid driving while taking the pain medication.
Pain medication can also cause or worsen constipation
Increase your fluids (8-10 cups/day)
Eat high fiber foods
Take small walks
Over the counter medication (Miralax) can be beneficial if experiencing constipation
Contact your nurse navigator or doctor for further concerns
INCISION AND DRESSING CARE DURING MASTECTOMY RECOVERY
It is important to monitor your incisions after surgery.
Your incision is sealed with surgical glue and/or steri-strips and may be covered with gauze and/or a transparent dressing
Bruising and some swelling are common after surgery.
A low-grade fever (under 100 degrees F) is normal the day after surgery
Please refer to your post-op instructions given to you by your doctor regarding care of your dressing and showering. If you have a plastic surgeon, the breast surgeon defers to the plastic surgeon for dressing care/showering
WHEN TO CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR
Pain is not relieved by medication
Fever more than 101 degrees F or chills
Excessive bleeding or swelling
If the gauze beneath the plastic dressing becomes wet
Redness outside the dressing and if the skin around your incision feels warm or hot to the touch
Discharge or bad odor from the wound or the drains
If the Jackson-Pratt drain(s) is not working or the drainage output is less than 30 cc for 24 hours for 2 days in a row.
FOLLOW UP CARE DURING MASTECTOMY RECOVERY
You will be scheduled for an appointment to see your Breast Surgeon after your surgery. They will either call you with the pathology results or discuss the results at the post-op visit. Call your Breast Health Department if you do not have or do not remember your appointment.
If you have a mastectomy, you will be referred to physical therapy to help with swelling, pain, and return to function.
For patients having a lumpectomy, the breast surgeon decides whether or not you need a physical therapy appointment.
REST DURING MASTECTOMY RECOVERY
We want to give your body the best chance to heal during mastectomy recovery.
Studies show that people who follow these precautions have their drains taken out earlier, have less fluid in the drains, and have less chance of developing a seroma (pocket of fluid).
There are several things you can during the initial days of mastectomy recovery to ensure the best outcomes and to avoid complications:
Healing occurs in the lymphatic fluid-collecting vessels. These vessels are trying to reconnect through the armpit and the chest wall area. This may be where skin was cut or where lymph nodes may have been removed.
Studies show it takes 7-10 days for these vessels to start reconnecting. Therefore, we want you to significantly limit the use of your arm on the surgical side while your drains are in, plus three more days.
Keep your arm relaxed and below shoulder height while your drains are in, plus three days. Avoid muscle guarding or tensing.
You can eat and use your hands as needed, but avoid any unnecessary activity – including computer use, pet care, and household chores.
If you do have more drainage on certain days, log what activities you have done. You most likely did too much too soon. This is your body telling you to move your arm less to give your body a chance to heal.
HELPFUL MOVEMENT DURING MASTECTOMY RECOVERY
Gently lift your shoulders towards your ears while keeping your arms by your side. Roll them back and complete a full circle
Do this 10-15 times several times per day.
This moves the skin and muscles surrounding the rib cage
These vessels are trying to reconnect through the armpit and the chest wall area
MLD can be started immediately post-op
Paying attention to your posture after surgery is VERY important during mastectomy recovery!
Avoid hunching forward, rolling your shoulders in, and slouching.
These are all positions that may feel more natural when you come out of surgery, but staying in them all day can cause more issues and discomfort down the road.
Although movement of your arm is restricted during the first week, you can work on your posture and body position immediately. This can provide some pain relief.
A NOTE ABOUT EXPANDERS
Many people have tissue expanders placed for the initial part of the reconstructive process. These expanders are commonly placed under the muscles in the front of the chest, and sometimes just above these muscle.
As the expander is inflated, stretch is applied to the tissues over it. This stretch can make the chest wall feel tight, and slouching can briefly add slack to the system.
If you are able to maintain a more upright posture as much as possible, these tissues will gradually grow accustomed to their new stretched position.
REHAB DURING MASTECTOMY RECOVERY
Physical therapy following mastectomy with or without reconstruction is vital in helping you regain functional mobility, decrease pain, and reduce swelling.
You may already have scheduled appointments starting two weeks after your surgery date.
Everyone has different rehab needs. Some people only need 3-4 visits and others need to be followed throughout chemotherapy and radiation.
It depends on your prior level of function, your level of involvement and functional limitations, and the type of surgery that you undergo.
Our goal is to get you back to all the things you love to do in the safest and most efficient way possible!