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Breast Surgery; any advice to prepare for surgery?

Breast Cancer | Last Active: Oct 5, 2022 | Replies (15)

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Here is the list of things I felt I needed to do, buy and schedule before my surgery:

Be sure you have satisfied yourself that you have asked all the questions you need answers to from your doctors, and that you fully understand what medications you will be on, what they will be doing to you and that your transportation and after-care help is ready and waiting for you.

1. I sat down and paid in advance any upcoming household bills.

2. I cleaned my house very thoroughly as I knew family would be stopping by and I wouldn't be able to do it for weeks afterwards.
(Hire a service to do this if you are not up to it.)

3. Schedule your personal must-do's so that they are out of the way before surgery like: getting the car washed and gassed, get your teeth cleaned if it is time, get your hair dye done and your manicure done and out of the way.

4. Do all the possible laundry you can - blankets, sheets, towels, pajamas - anything you might need over the next few weeks.

4. I bought a wide wedge pillow from Amazon. It was described as follows: "Acid Reflux Wedge Pillow (32"x30"x7") with Memory Foam Overlay and Removable Microfiber Cover "BIG" by Medslant."

5. I bought a pack of 2 king-sized 'Beautyrest Black' pillows from Costco which are extremely soft, plush and malleable.

Note: This combo of pillows was arranged as follows: Put the wide wedge pillow down first, then lay the 2 king-size pillows side-by-side vertically, that is: one on the left and one on the right, pushed together. This placement allowed me to sleep on my back with my head elevated slightly, and gave important support to my lower back, neck, shoulders and arms. It is important to have the shoulders and arms level or above your chest if you have any lymph node dissection, which I did. This pillow combo is very comfortable, helps with fluid drainage, and reduces the need or impulse to turn or lay on one's side.

6. Set aside a very loose, comfortable pair of pajamas and a few loose shirts and yoga pants to wear while recovering.

7. I bought jello, popsicles, really good probiotics, extra toilet paper & paper towels, magnesium tablets (to help with muscle pain and preventing constipation while using pain pills) breads, and other necessary groceries.

8. I made up a big volume of homemade bone broth vegetable soup. Enough to last for 2 weeks of lunch.

9. I washed and cut up a large amount of fresh fruit with OJ poured over it to make a delicious compote that I put in 4 containers in the fridge for ease of use.

10. I made a good sized roast beef in the crockpot and once cooked, I sliced it thin and put it and its gravy into several containers to have for dinner or sandwiches over the first weeks of recovery.


11. The night before surgery, I put clean sheets and pillowcases on my bed and clean towels in the bath.

12. I showered, took a few snapshots of my old breasts before they disappeared, prayed, spoke with my family and thanked them for their support and went to bed early.
Good luck to you.

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Replies to "Here is the list of things I felt I needed to do, buy and schedule before..."

Great suggestions. I did many of these same things prior to surgery and (oddly) the four weeks I took off from work and housework, etc. during my recovery were some of the best weeks I'd had in years. (ha ha).
I would also suggest pre-surgery that you gather up clothes that have a button or zip front. You won't be able to comfortably lift your arms so you need clothes that open in the front and loose pants that you don't have to struggle to get in to (like yoga or sweat pants). AND, if you're planning reconstruction or not..........I went and pre-shopped my 'foobs' (fake boobs) a little and got a camisole for post surgery that held the drains nicely and comfortably. If it's too expensive they do sell donated/used ones at most stores that cater to mastectomy patients. Post surgery I donated mine and it looked brand new.
Here's one thing to do as well. You will have dressings for a short time on your incisions. Get some of the wide tape the doctors use. DON'T DO WHAT I DID and use the over the counter sticky tape to hold the bandages and end up a gooey mess. My doctor actually spent one of my follow up visits 'cleaning me up'. I had black, sticky goo everywhere I used the tape. My doctor was a kind woman but it was still embarrassing. (sigh). Hugs to you..........

My surgery is August 29th at Mayo and I wish I could reach out and give you 50 hugs for all your terrific suggestions! Thank you so very much!

The kind of tape you should look for is 3M Micropore tape. There is another 3M tape that is clear and leaves the sticky mess. It is called Transpore tape. It works very well for many things, but will leave a residue. (Residue can be removed with coconut oil, jojoba oil, 409, etc.) So search for 3M MICROPORE tape to avoid the residue.
Both tapes comes in different widths. I luckily had several widths of each in my first aid stash at home.
After surgery, I used some tape to help secure my drainage tubes to my skin so that if I accidently got a tube yanked while dressing or bathing, it would prevent it from yanking out of the opening further.
I found that my reconstructed breasts with implants were heavy and would try to fall to the sides when I laid down to rest and it would hurt quite a bit. Also, the same thing when I had to lean forward for any reason, they would hurt in the cleavage area. Doctor said it was normal and just stitch pulling sensations. It was bad enough that I could not recline or sit up from a recline or sleeping position without needing a hand under my back from someone else - otherwise strong stabby pains, which were relieved when I grasped my breasts and lifted them up and brought them to the center position. After 4 days of stabby pains it occured to me that I could utilize my tape to help me with this. I taped on the sides of my breasts to push them slightly into the central position and under the breasts to push them upwards a bit - sort of like a push up bra. What a difference! It stopped the stabby pains and I could sit, lay, recline without help after that. The tape is not bothered by showering or anything else and can be left on until you want to remove it. I left that on for 5 days and I was able to completely go off the pain pills with the tape support. After the 5 days of taping, I was able to go back to wearing a supporting bra that worked doing the same thing (mostly).
Now, at the 3 week mark, I find that I need to do the tape again to help push the breasts up and center as my old bras just don't fit right and hurt when I wear them. The tape works especially well for sleeping when you do not want a tight bra on. I probably need to go out and buy some new bras to better fit my new breasts, but meanwhile I am grateful for the benefits of the tape!

Welcome to Connect @roewes07. First, I'd like to wish you all success for your upcoming surgery. May I ask if you would share a bit more about yourself? When were you diagnosed with breast cancer? How did you (or doctors) discover the cancer?

Hi Kanaaz! Diagnosed January '18 at my home town hospital in Montana. I have invasive ductal cancer in my left breast which has metastasized to my lymph nodes. I have 2 DCIS in my right. I found a strange lump on my left upper breast while showering. I never miss my mammograms except for the one I cancelled August 2017 due to a shoulder injury and non-ability to undergo mammogram. I went to Mayo for a second opinion in February. My Oncologist at Mayo put me on Letrozole and I have had wonderful success with it. My K-i 67 dropped from 19 to 2 in only 31 days! Feeling grateful and positive that I am doing everything to promote many years enjoying my world!