• What to expect after mastectomy/reconstruction surgery?

    Asked by Roadrunner on Wednesday, May 8, 2013

    What to expect after mastectomy/reconstruction surgery?

    The medical community seems to have me prepared well for my upcoming surgery this Friday May 10th, however, I keep asking them what after and of course the answer is always...."everyone is different". There have got to be some common threads between all of our post ops? How much self care can I give myself the first week after surgery....my husband will be my caregiver (and I wonder who will pick him up off the floor when he has to pull my on-q pump out LOL). By the third week will I be able to be on my own? When will I be able to drive again. I am a very independent person and am always the one helping others so this is difficult for me. I love to do sewing and paper crafting projects.....how soon can I return to them? Please help me with any post op information you can or guidelines so I know I am on track. Thank you

    12 Answers from the Community

    12 answers
    • HearMeRoar's Avatar

      I had my surgery on 2/15 and was driving a week later. I felt back to almost normal 3 days after the surgery. I was up on day 3 making breakfast and getting my kids ready for school. The drains are a pain in the butt but are manageable.

      over 7 years ago
    • Ydnar2xer's Avatar

      HMR is absolutely RIGHT about the drains...they bothered me so much, not because they hurt, because they didn't--it was just them hanging off of me that drove me nuts. But they have a purpose, and when you get them all out, you will feel like a new woman!

      I was tired a lot after my surgery, so took naps for a while, most afternoons. I think I drove a week afterwards (has to do w/when you stop big drugs as well as feeling up to it.) I would plan on taking it real easy the first week, for sure. Sounds like you have a terrific attitude, however--which I think is a HUGE contributor to how fast you heal! Good luck & we'll be thinking of you.

      over 7 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      Its been 7 years, so my memory has faded but if I remember correctly, no driving for one week.....no lifting more than 8# for a period of time.....the most wonderful thing I did for myself was to go to Fantastic Sams and get my hair washed...so decadent...by 2 1/2 weeks post bilat I was feeling good and going out to eat with my girlfriends...the first week was really a recovery week....let people take care of you.....get front opening tops rather than pull over for th first couple fo weeks...get a comfy sports type bra...I found some at Walmart that were fairly inexpensive that were great...they opened in the front...I think I wore them for a few weeks after the surgical bra came off...

      over 7 years ago
    • Roadrunner's Avatar

      Thank you for all the great help. I am getting one of those surgical camisoles that hold the drain bulbs and you are right.....I don't like drains, however, totally understand why we have to have them. You are so awesome you don't know how much you have made my night. I was so worried I would be home bound for weeks and that just isn't me. I had really long hair and got 11 inches cut off and usually donate it to Locks of Love, however, this time the person told me to keep it as thought maybe I could have a wig made of my own hair. My current hair is still long enough to get in a small pony tail. I got it cut because I knew my husband would not want to wash all that long hair and mine grows really quickly. Thank you HMR, Y2 and Karen for your great wisdom......oh by the way Y2 I like the idea of an afternoon nap....not used to that :)

      over 7 years ago
    • Benge's Avatar

      So sorry you have to go through this too.
      You sound a lot like me, I am a very independent person and never ask for help, but this taught me that asking for help is okay! I had my bi lateral with reconstruction done Dec 7 and had my last fill 3 months ago and had my exchange last Friday. With the first surgery I took a month off work, I'm a seamstress too. I was able to take showers the day after surgery all by myself and get myself a cup of coffee and something to eat. You won't be totally helpless!! =) My friends at church set up a schedule to bring us dinners and my husband and son helped keep the house cleaned up. One of my nurses told me that it's okay to ask for help, it will actually make your loved ones and friends feel good to help because they feel so helpless. That helped me a lot and it actually felt good to be pampered. After about 2 weeks I was doing some light work like dusting and helping with laundry, just folding and putting one piece of clothing at a time, but NO lifting!!! No vacuuming either. I took myself off pain meds during the day before I started doing things, because I wanted my body to tell me if what I was doing hurts or not. I wish you all the best tomorrow and I sent a prayer for you for fast recovery!!!

      over 7 years ago
    • MarianneT's Avatar

      I had a bi-lateral with expanders. My husband was home for a few days and my son was with me most days. Some things that helped me: tops and PJ's that button down. Easy to get on and off. I had very oily hair and since no showering at the beginning I purchased dry shampoo. My husband washed my hair every other day at the kitchen sink ( high enough not to have to bend much) and every other day he did it with the dry shampoo. Tank tops were also easy once I could get my arms up a bit. I did a lot of walking pretty much out of the house and walking around the neighborhood from day 4. I also had my husband set out any meds I needed as I could not open those darn childproof bottles at the beginning. Have some quick, easy to eat foods handy, so no fussing with prep. I emptied drains myself and it was very easy. I could not sleep laying down at the beginning so slept in my recliner in the living room. Uncomfortable to lay flat and difficult to get up. I had a huge problem with pain meds causing constipation, have high fiber foods at the ready as well as whatever meds you use for constipation. I used senna plus but ask your doc. Oh, and if you are a coffee drinker like me I had my coffee 11:30pm the night before so I wouldn't miss it as much the morning of surgery ;) Good luck and God bless!!!

      over 7 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      The biggest Aha I had was that I couldn't believe how well I did after surgery and maybe did too much even. The surgery is outside the body, so it isn't as invasive as say gall bladder, etc. That is what my surgeon told me and she was correct. Just follow advice given to you after for care. You will probably have drainage and need to measure and empty the fluids a couple of times a day. At first, you may want someone to do this, but it is not bad really. Just make sure you don't lift or raise arms over head too much (like don't open windows, etc) Certainly, take a walk but don't work up a sweat, just move around a bit. This is good for your circulation and blood clot prevention. Just follow the stretches they give you to do so that you get your arm flexibility going. Also, take a lesson from me, I had to have my expander removed because of healing, don't try to do too much at once. The first week, you may even be able to make a light meal, but I'd let someone do it if they can. Also, rest so that your body heals. You will do well, if you cut yourself a break and take the good advice the docs and nurses give you.

      over 7 years ago
    • Gabba's Avatar

      The most important comment you made is that you are a very independent woman and used to doing for others...you sound a lot like me! I am also a nurse practitioner so being on "the other side of medical procedures" was also difficult for me AT FIRST...you must learn to let people help you...they will be so grateful to be able to do something, anything for you, learn to accept help with gratitude...you will be surprised at how most folks really step up at times like this and it is a chance for them to feel good about themselves...you will be surprised at how well you will be a week out from your surgery...do not push too hard, sit back and enjoy...happy crafting! I am sending positive thoughts and prayers your way and will be thinking of you tomorrow. Good luck and God bless!

      over 7 years ago
    • Nonnie917's Avatar

      Like they say everyone is different. With me it took a while for me to recoup, but then I am not finished with my reconstruction yet. Ran into some trouble with my red cell count being too low and my kidneys failed. They are healed now because of God, but not sure about the red cell count yet. Go in for a blood test today for that. I want to get the last of the surgery out of the way because by the end of the year I have to have my right knee replaced. So recovery really depeneds on you. You can make it go fast and go back to being independent and possibly have troubles because you rushed things or you can take it easy and let the healing take it's course naturally. I recommend the latter. Why rush things and end up with possible problems? Take it easy and do what your body will allow you to do. That would be my advice.

      over 7 years ago
    • Ladykarla's Avatar

      You have gotten great advice. It has also helped me because I am currently having radiation, then expanders, then either implants or my own tissue from a tummy tuck. Now I know what to expect and what to buy. Thanks everybody! I will pray for you. Let us know how you are doing!

      over 7 years ago
    • Nomadicme's Avatar

      Depends on what kind of reconstruction. If expanders, I was able to bathe myself one week into it. Essentially I could do most things a week into it, but it was nice having my mom help with the drains, drive me to appointments (you can't be high on pain meds and drive). I'd say 3-4 weeks for driving. Week 2 you can probably start doing crafts.

      over 7 years ago
    • mcowett's Avatar

      Be mindful of your movement. There is alot of post op information you should be getting, if not you can google this site for it. You should be able to drive, and do most of your stuff once you stop taking the pain meds. Think common sense: no lifting things, don't stretch that arm over head because of the stitches in there, you won't want to go far and do much because of the drainage tubes but you will figure them out. Honestly you don't want to hear how may days. . . They will stop draining when then stop. Just take it day by day. You said you were helper so think about what you would tell your people you help and follow your instructions. I'b bet you give good advise : ) My big caution to you is to please follow instructions about the exercises and don't overdo it. I too am independent and overdid it. . . I moved my harm too much and now I have a seroma (permanent lump) under my arm and lymphedema in my arm. You don't want that.

      over 7 years ago

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