• Mastectomy

    Asked by akwendi on Wednesday, March 1, 2017

    Mastectomy

    I will be having a bilateral mastectomy soon. I would like some feedback from people as far as what to expect, what you would recommend to pack for the hospital, and tips for after/recovery.

    25 Answers from the Community

    25 answers
    • Coconut's Avatar
      Coconut

      I just want to wish you good luck and pray for a quick recovery.

      over 4 years ago
    • Kris58's Avatar
      Kris58

      Button front Shirts! I went to goodwill and found a couple of button shirts in a size larger than I normally wear. And sweat pants or yoga pants or anything elastic waist. And slip on shoes. It was not stylish but I could leave the hospital with my dignity covered.

      over 4 years ago
    • Auntshel1's Avatar
      Auntshel1

      My doctor prescribed a mastectomy camisole. i liked it because it had pockets for the drains. Mine wasn't really tight and zipped in the front to make putting it on easier.

      over 4 years ago
    • savingrace's Avatar
      savingrace

      I want to start by saying I pray that all goes well with surgery and recovery. Like Kris58 said comfortable clothing, items that you don't have to be doing a lot to get in and out of. You will probably have drain tubes after surgery so I was told to wear a comfortable undershirt (a size larger than I normally wear) under my top and pin the tubes to my undershirt. That was so helpful for me because it prevented the tubes from dangling. Stay positive and again, I wish you nothing but the best.

      over 4 years ago
    • savingrace's Avatar
      savingrace

      I want to start by saying I pray that all goes well with surgery and recovery. Like Kris58 said comfortable clothing, items that you don't have to be doing a lot to get in and out of. You will probably have drain tubes after surgery so I was told to wear a comfortable undershirt (a size larger than I normally wear) under my top and pin the tubes to my undershirt. That was so helpful for me because it prevented the tubes from dangling. Stay positive and again, I wish you nothing but the best.

      over 4 years ago
    • savingrace's Avatar
      savingrace

      I want to start by saying I pray that all goes well with surgery and recovery. Like Kris58 said comfortable clothing, items that you don't have to be doing a lot to get in and out of. You will probably have drain tubes after surgery so I was told to wear a comfortable undershirt (a size larger than I normally wear) under my top and pin the tubes to my undershirt. That was so helpful for me because it prevented the tubes from dangling. Stay positive and again, I wish you nothing but the best.

      over 4 years ago
    • ShortCuts' Avatar
      ShortCuts

      I agree with the above, a button from shirt, or a mastectomy shirt with pockets for drains. I wore yoga pants, and slip on shoes and comfy socks, because it was cold AF in the hospital. Sending healing vibes for your recovery.

      over 4 years ago
    • lynn1950's Avatar
      lynn1950

      Yes to all the above. Plus, you'll be in the hospital recovering for a day. Pack a fun movie to watch. The drains are the biggest hassle once you go home. Having a system holding them when you are able to shower is helpful.

      over 4 years ago
    • lynn1950's Avatar
      lynn1950

      One responder a few years ago said this about her drains: " I placed the 3 of them in one of those velvet Crown Royal Bags and clipped the bag to a name tag holder that goes around the neck." Maybe other members can chime in with other ideas for managing drains.

      over 4 years ago
    • CancerBeGlammed's Avatar
      CancerBeGlammed

      Hi Akwendi, I am a breast cancer survivor who had a double mastectomy and chemotherapy. To help other women have a better recovery experience, I founded a company Cancer Be Glammed. On our website we feature recovery products and lifestyle solutions from post-op through treatment to survivorship. We do not sell any products directly but link to the stores where you can choose the recovery products we recommend or ones that you like. In addition you will find helpful resources and blogs. We even have a shopping checklist that you can download. Here is the link to our website, www.cancerbeglammed.com.
      I wish you the best of luck and a strong recovery--Lisa Lurie

      over 4 years ago
    • Jesse0218's Avatar
      Jesse0218

      Best of luck with your surgery. Like everybody else says - find things easy to get on and off.
      I had a single mastectomy a little over 2 years ago. My surgeon sent a visiting nurse in for awhile. They didn't come every day but like 3xweek for a couple weeks, then tapered down. That's very helpful in that they can watch for any problems.
      Also, don't be afraid or too independent (like I am) when friends offer to help. Or, to ask them for help. There will be things that you won't be able to manage for awhile and you'll probably have weight restrictions on how much you can lift for awhile.
      Try to start walking as soon as you can. This will help you heal, plus you'll feel better when you start moving around. You don't need or want to go far in the beginning. You just want to start moving.
      I've read several times that one of the best ways to prevent cancer from coming back is to exercise. I really believe this is true!

      over 4 years ago
    • banditwalker's Avatar
      banditwalker

      Yes, can't tell you how handy the button up shirts were. Just took comfy clothes to the hospital. I came home the same day. They are not going to want you to raise your arms or lift anything heavier than 5 lbs. So, I pre-made food and froze for later. I took all items used daily down to waist high so I could reach them. I also slept in a lazy boy until my drains were removed. That was 13 days later. There was not any pain for me, but I won't say it wasn't uncomfortable. Hence, the lazy boy. With pillows to put under my arms. I did take the pain pills only to help me sleep. That also caused the side effect of constipation. Keep some Miralax or something like that in the house if you are not used to eating too much fiber.
      You did not say whether you were having reconstruction immediately. That may be a little different. I did not have reconstruction the same time but did have "skin sparing surgery". I do not recommend it. They also call them "dog ears" so that gives you and idea of what they look like and it was very hard for me to hide them under clothes, if at all. I did not have reconstruction for another year so I had to deal with these dog ears for a long time.
      lynn 1950 may be talking about me when I used a Crown Royal bag to hold my drains and just attached the bag to a lanyard around my neck. But, I only had 2 drains so many of us probably had the same idea.
      It was over for me in no time at all, no pain, and I had a great husband support system. Hope you have the same and good luck to you.

      over 4 years ago
    • gpgirl70's Avatar
      gpgirl70

      I wish you all the best and a speedy recovery. Check with your surgeon/oncologist about whether there is a breast cancer center or nurse navigator who can provide you with information and swag. My nurse navigator gave me heart shaped pillows for recovery which I adored, a drain holder for when I showered, cool socks, an awesome tote bag, resource information on camisoles with drains, and loads of other types of information. The nurse navigator also runs walking groups, yoga classes, mindfulness classes, nutrition & wellness classes, etc. I don't know what I would have done without her. I echo what others have said about button up men's shirts, stretchy pants, slip on shoes. I really liked having my iPad while in the hospital recovering. I got a soft bamboo camisole with drain pockets that I also loved. I did not have reconstruction and am not going to have reconstruction so I was able to inform my surgeon that I wanted a very clean chest area - no skin sparing. If you are having reconstruction, I believe you need different compression undergarments. I know this sounds weird and remember I did not have reconstruction, but the mastectomy was one of the easier aspects of treatment.

      over 4 years ago
    • cswwhatnext's Avatar
      cswwhatnext

      I just had my second bilateral mastectomy last week on 2/23. Yes, second. My first BMX, nipple and skin sparing, was April 2016 with immediate reconstruction of implants. The implants were too large and I developed an infection 6 weeks later and the implants had to be removed. I was left with way too much tissue and a horrific mess after that. My first recommendation is to decide if you want reconstruction or not. If not, be SURE your Dr.'s understand that and make you as flat as possible, with no excess skin "in case you change your mind" because if they leave excess, you will probably not be happy with the results. I can recommend a great Facebook closed group called "Flat & Fabulous" with hundreds of real women than can help with answers about remaining flat. If you're opting for reconstruction, there are also great resources in closed groups on Facebook that will give you real-life experiences, and pictures, so you can evaluate what you want to do. There is a DIEP group and a LAT-Flap group. All these groups helped me make my decision that for my overall health and well-being I have opted to be flat and fabulous. But it took me 6 2nd opinions and Dr.'s to find one that would respect my wishes and make me flat. As far as the hospital and how to prepare for the surgery: strengthen your core as much as you can prior to surgery; have extra large button down shirts to wear; you may not be able to shower until the drains come out, so dry shampoo and baby wipes; keep everything you need at waist height - you won't be able to lift your arms over your head for a couple of weeks and won't be allowed to lift more than 10 pounds for a month or more. Pillows - lots of pillows to prop you up in bed to make it easier to get up out of bed. Little heart shaped pillows for under your arms are lifesavers in helping with the BMX pain and mobility restrictions. Lots of fluids and protein will help you recover. Wishing you all the best - and sending big hugs!

      over 4 years ago
    • joyuss59's Avatar
      joyuss59

      Hello I also want to wish you good luck ! I had the bilateral mastectomy in 2012 and have been very happy with my decision not to do the implants ! my husband and I discussed it and as I was 66years old did not want to go through more surgeries ! I had Chemo before my surgery and Radiation after wards ! I was in and out the same day because Medicare considered it an outpatient surgery ! which really shocked me ! but all went well ! the surgery was the easiest out of all the treatments ! I had no pain to speak off because they cut almost all your nerves so you are just more numb to everything ! I had two drains which my husband took care of for me he was my blessing ! I bought the camisoles with the pockets in them and I ended up putting the drains in my Pajama pockets ! it was easier didn't have to lift arms to far up and way more comfortable ! the ladies are right ! wear larger open shirts comfortable pants sweets or PJ's I think my drains stayed in for 2 weeks ! you didn't say if you had to have chemo or radiation I sure hope you don't have too ! I think the chemo was the worst for me ! wishing you all the best ! hope all this helps you and gives you some comfort !

      over 4 years ago
    • Judytjab's Avatar
      Judytjab

      Wishing you luck on your surgery. I had bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction 2 years ago. You will need button down blouses and button down PJ's bc you won't be able to raise your arms for awhile. I used a lanyard to pin my drains on when I was able to shower...worked great. While around the house I pinned them to a skinny belt around my waist. I used lots of pillows since I had to sleep sitting up for awhile ( didn't have a recliner) for behind me and under my arms. Put everything low so you can reach. I only spent one night in the hospital, so I didn't need much. A brush and lip balm. It's very important to do your arm exercises every day after your drains are out to get full mobility. Neck pillows came in handy for me. I used them for sleeping and during the day, under my arms. It wasn't as painful as I thought it would be since it's just tissue. I was on extra strength Tylenol in about 3 days...oh and you'll need stool softeners if you're on pain meds. Big ((hugs)) to you and let us know how you're doing.

      over 4 years ago
    • Judytjab's Avatar
      Judytjab

      By the way, I had reconstruction with implants and had no problems at all. I don't regret it one bit. It's an individual decision. I even had the 3D nipple tattoos and have gotten compliments (from medical professionals). If you are having reconstruction, I would find the best plastic surgeons and get 2 or 3 opinions. Best of luck to you.

      over 4 years ago
    • Gfurey's Avatar
      Gfurey

      The most important thing I bought was a belt with pockets for the drains--just wear the belt under your shirt and put the drains in the pockets--I had one that came with a separate around the neck plastic pouch to wear in the shower--got them on Amazon--my doctors even asked where I got them--

      over 4 years ago
    • MelanieIIB's Avatar
      MelanieIIB

      The drains have a tag on them and at the hospital they had large pins that go through the tag and attach to the post surgery bra or "binder". At home when I showered, I used a lanyard around my neck which grasped the pins that were attached to the tags on the drains. I was given a post surgical camisole to wear at home which had pockets to put the drains in so you don't have to keep pinning them. Everyone's body is different so the amount of time you will have the drains in varies. It even various in each person. I had separate mastectomies. With the first one, I was able to get one drain out after 2 weeks, the other one had to say in an additional week. With my second mastectomy, I was able to have both drains out about a week after the surgery. The way it is determined when the drains can be removed is when the drains are no longer putting out the amount of liquid that your surgeon will tell you. Every time you empty the drains, you have to record the amount on a sheet of paper your doctor or the hospital will give you.

      As other people have said, at home, you will not be allowed to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk, and you will also be told to be careful of "pushing" and "pulling".....so no vacuuming and that sort of thing. Until the drains are out you will be told not to lift your arms, that is why button down garments are recommended. So if there are things in your home you will need to lift your arms to reach, it would be helpful to put them at a convenient level before your surgery. Unless you will have help, having food ready so all you have to do is heat it would be helpful.

      Don't forget to bring some lip chap (or whatever you like) to the hospital to use after recovery to moisten your lips. For some reason after every surgery I've had, my lips have been extremely dry. I guess perhaps because you can't have anything to eat or drink for such a long time before your surgery.

      Let us know how it goes.

      over 4 years ago
    • Bug's Avatar
      Bug

      I just want to wish you the very best. Sending prayers and a hug to you. Please let us know how you're doing whenever you feel up to it.

      over 4 years ago
    • Jouska's Avatar
      Jouska

      Wishing you the best with your surgery. I lived in zip front hoodies and sweat pants. You can't (and shouldn't) pull anything over your head/lifting up your arms. So you need easy clothes. I also had a lot of swelling post surgery, so you need comfy larger clothes. I had TRAM flap reconstruction at the same time, so I am sure that added to the swelling. I slept in a recliner for about 6 weeks too - the bed was not comfortable and propping myself up with pillows seemed like a lot of work. The drains are a nuisance but pins or bags (I like the crown royal bag ideas I read above) help. You can't lift or stretch too far - so put your favorite stuff on the kitchen counter. And make sure you have help to drive you and to grocery shop. Also someone to help carry things in and put things away.

      over 4 years ago
    • MariePierre's Avatar
      MariePierre

      The best part of my treatment was my bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. I recovered within a week and experienced very little pain. After my surgery, I wanted to do nothing else, but family members were uncomfortable with that decision, and they strongly advised me to continue with the treatment plan which included Chemo and Radiation. I wasn't able to tolerate the chemo, but Radiation was fine and the Staff supportive. I was on Anastrozole for about a year. Now, I'm as well as anybody else. I wish you the best.

      over 4 years ago
    • hikerchick's Avatar
      hikerchick

      If you want full range of motion back, do your exercises religiously, and then keep stretching and getting physical therapy and work it for 6 months. I'm so glad I did. No limits on yoga or kayak surfing! Believe me, it wasn't that way before I insisted on PT. Only 1 night in the hospital. Came home and did laundry, no problem. Made some of my own prosthetics - very therapeutic. You'll be fine if you put yourself first and make your own decisions.

      over 4 years ago
    • akwendi's Avatar
      akwendi

      Thank you for the well wishes and helpful ideas. 6 days post surgery and feeling really good. Have 6 more days with drains though...Very ready for a shower, but compared to coming through chemo...I can do this!

      over 4 years ago
    • MelanieIIB's Avatar
      MelanieIIB

      akwendi, so glad you are doing well!! Ask your surgeon if you are allowed to shower. Mine let me shower the day I came home from the hospital. I used a lanyard (that a breast cancer support organization gave me specifically for that purpose) around my neck to hold the drains up. I washed my hair leaning over the kitchen sink....I had more control of my arms that way. Continue to let us know how you are doing.

      over 4 years ago

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