What to expect before during and after mastectomy

Posted by johnsoncs1 @johnsoncs1, Feb 27 8:35pm

I am scheduled for mastectomy coming up in March. Just looking for reassurance from others who have gone the journey before. Not sure what to expect. How to prepare. Supplies I need a home. Supplies I need to bring with me. Your recovery story.

I truly believe your surgeon's office will give you all the supplies you need when you get home (probably same day?). I saw your message and I just had to reply, as I've had more mastectomy surgeries than anyone I know! My husband often tells people his wife's had her breast removed 4 times! (He thinks he's SO funny.) I had left breast mastectomy on a Wednesday in 2007. At that time we didn't have a dedicated breast surgeon in our area, so it was done by a general surgeon. Two days later I was called back for a second surgery in the same area as they "hadn't gotten it all" the first time. Sigh. Undoubtedly this will NOT happen to you! I'll save the other two breast surgery stories for another time, but will be thinking of you when you get home with your drain tube. I hope they forewarned you of that. If not, you may want to Google it. Much love as you move through this phase. It is, after all, the most important treatment there is following a diagnosis of breast cancer.


My recommendations are; big loose button up shirts for first few weeks, soft neck roll pillow to support your upper arm in sitting and sleeping, lots of pillows as you may be required to sleep on your back for first few weeks ( pillows to block you from rolling over). When putting bra, shirt,or coat on, put affected arm in first; when taking off take off unaffected arm first. You will most probably have a drain or two. The nurses will instruct you how to deal with drains before leaving hospital. Your tendency may be to slouch but try to fight that! Get out and walk as soon as you feel ready! Good for body and mind! You may not have a lot of pain but if you can get a prescription for pain meds, they will take the edge off of the pain for first night or two. Try Tylenol first. Accept help! I think you will find the recovery is less painful than expected! Best of luck and feel free to ask more questions!
I am a retired physical therapist so when I felt ready in the hospital I got up and walked to avoid risk of blood clots. I got discharged day after surgery and did well on my own dealing with drains( removed 7 days post op), dressing, showering. I was not given pain meds and wish I had been given them. I drove after first post op visit which was at one week.


If possible, have a comfortable recliner. I couldn't sleep in bed for about 9 months. Had a nice comfy recliner and snugly blankets. I also made meals ahead so my hubby could just thaw and cook. You will feel fatigued from the anesthetic and some pain so don't push yourself. You may need help the first few days to help with stripping the tubes of blood drainage from the tubes. I was able to do that after. You'll need to keep track of the amount and color of drainage as the breast surgeon will decide then when the tubes come out. Dress comfortably with sweat pants and a loose cotton knit shirt – you may or may not be a little sweaty. You will be sent home in a compression bra. Once the tubes came out, what a relief! Just stay positive and take one day at a time, you'll be fine. I went flat and have never looked back. All the best to you.


And don't forget to ask for a pain blocker. It is put on your back while asleep and you wear a backpack which pushes the medication automatically. Its wonderful at making this less uncomfortable. And I also agree on the moving around part; I believe it helps you heal. Don't be afraid to move your arm! It will prevent your shoulder from locking up. Ask for exercises and stretches to do. Good luck and hope for the best!

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