I had a bilat with expanders....I stayed 2 days in the hospital....I don't really remember the first few days after surgery as I'm going on 7 years...what I remember is being tired....and sore but not in horrible pain.....no lifting greater than 5#, no showers...the most decadent thing I did was go to Fantastic Sams to get my hair washed (it was long) about 5 days after surgery....I had 2 drains that DH helped me manage and empty....wear button down or zip down front tops...nothing over your head for a couple weeks....comfy bottoms.....By 2+ weeks post surgery I was feeling pretty good....went out to lunch with girlfriends etc...then I started chemo!!! Please let me know what else I can help with...
Breast Cancer Questions
What to expect after surgery masectomy and reconstructive surgery.
Asked by pressinfwd on Sunday, January 20, 2013
What to expect after surgery masectomy and reconstructive surgery.
6 Answers from the Community
I had a right mastectomy with TRAM flap reconstruction. Surgery was on a Tuesday and I went home on Sunday. My surgery was about 9 hours long, which was harder for my family than for me, although I had some anxiety about the length of surgery. Getting out of bed the day after surgery felt like work and I was very tearful. A nurse told me later that anesthesia can often cause tearfulness. I had a PCA pump, 2 drains in my abdomen and 2 in the reconstructed breast, and daily sessions of Physical therapy. The nurses wanted me out of bed most of the afternoon, so I sat in a chair that reclined, and I could nap if I wanted. After TRAM flap surgery it is not possible to stand up straight initially due to the abdominal surgery. I felt better and stronger every day, but as karen1956 said, there is no lifting more than 5 pounds, and this type of surgery can take up to 6 weeks of recovery. I took sponge baths at the kitchen sink and washed my hair there too. I needed help for bathing for about 2 weeks, and then was able to do most of it myself.
I am super happy with the results of my surgery. Although I have a scar from hip bone to hip bone, my reconstructed breast looks amazing, and I think it helped me emotionally to still have a "breast" after undergoing a mastectomy. My reconstructed breast does not have much feeling and I understand that may continue. Again, I agree with Karen to plan on wearing tops that open in the front and very comfy bottoms. I did not wear underwear for probably 4 weeks due to my abdominal incision.
Best of luck to you!
You'll have about a 2 day hospital stay. They'll give you a drip with the pain meds, that you can press if needed. I really didn't have much pain at all. In fact, the day after, my roommate and I go up and took a walk around the hospital floor, just got tired of laying. The pain meds made me sleep a lot and that really was the best thing since the body was healing. Like my surgeon said, this type of surgery is really outside the body so it is not as bad a recovery as an internal organ. You will have drainage bags. They will have to be emptied once or twice a day.. could be 2-3 on each side depending. You will notice a numb feeling across the back in the muscle extending from the breast area around each side. That is normal, nerves were cut.. this may come back or stay numb for a while. They will tell you how to measure and record the amount of fluid coming out of the drains. Get a mastectomy bra that will come with little pouches that velcro to the bra. This will give you a bit more mobility once you are up and about, the drain bottles fit right in to it and you can loop the long tubes so they are not handing. Expect 1-3 weeks before tubes are removed (doesn't hurt at all). Also, plan you home chores so that you do not have to reach your arms over your head. The "pec" muscles will feel weird from the expanders, so things that use them like opening or closing a window will not work.. Much healing is needed! Listen to what they tell you and don't try to be a hero for any reason. The best thing though is very little to almost no pain. I took 1/2 perscoset at night just to sleep. Prop up your pillows until comfy so that your sides are supported and sleep on your back. You will do fine and I wish you lots of luck!
Bilateral masectomy last feb 2012. If you can get a recliner to sleep in or at least lots of pillows
I stayed 2 days in hosp. and did use the pain drip. Let the nurses help you you do not need to be strong and independent let the nurse help to reposition your body. Had the TE's placed, they were a little uncomfortable, the first fill hurt. You should have a compression bra on when you wake up with the tabs for the drain bulbs to hang off of. My surgeon let me shower after 3 days I pinned the drain bulbs to my panties,
Before the surgery I did a lot of cooking and freezing food for the post op time. Made up a shopping list of most often needed items for DD. The thing that upset me the most was looking in the mirror, but now with the implants in I look more normal hopefully just one more surgery PS will take some abdominal fat to fill in spots in around the implants and tatoo nipples
Good Luck you will come thru it fine.
Everyone is different in her tolerance of pain and her definition of "difficult." I was in the hospital overnight and left feeling extremely sore. I slept in a recliner for weeks and did use vicodin for a few days but then switched to Motrin. I couldn't lift anything and my surgeons didn't want me to do much, including vacuuming, for six weeks. I felt well enough after three weeks to join some friends out for dinner; I remember that as a milestone for me. You just have to take it easy and not over-do. Yes, dealing with the drains wasn't pleasant but you will learn how to adjust to them. They will be pulled out when the drainage subsides; mine were out in about ten days and I only needed two drains. Some have more than two and have them in far longer. I do advise having someone with you at home for the first couple days, but you will soon manage on your own. Good luck to you.
I asked the same question about a month ago and my bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction (expanders) was 10 days ago. Depends on your reconstruction for the recovery, but for me what helped:
http://www.alittleeasierrecovery.org/ donates in the Boston area for shirts to hold the drains (1-2 per side). I made my own for extra with men's button down flannel shirts from walmart, white fabric and the iron on hem and seal. SO much more comfortable then a belt to hold them.
I was EXHAUSTED for the first few days. I wasn't awake for more than 2 hours at a time.
In the hospital I had a large water bottle with a handle and straw. My throat was VERY dry after surgery and I was chugging down powerade (my dr's recommended sports drinks, I brought several 32 ounce bottles with me). I needed my chapstick as well.
Otherwise, I was too tired for books, magazines, even my playlists I downloaded. I did listen to a relaxation app on my phone (with my headphones) to help relax and fall asleep when it was loud in the hospital hallway.... remember the phone charger too.
At home, keep dishes and glasses on the counter because you won't be able to reach your arms up, plus easy to reach and smaller size/weight in the fridge (like milk for coffee, couldn't lift a gallon). Today I could get one dish out of the clean dishes in the dishwasher, but it was the last one. I needed help getting a 2nd dish from the cabinet because I couldn't reach it. (LOVE having the clean dishes in the dishwasher now!)
I asked friends to come over during the day for the first several days, in case I needed anything, so I was never alone for the first... well, its day 10 and I haven't been home alone yet.
I sleep on the recliner with pillows to prop up my arms to drain the fluid and a table next to me to hold everything I might need, including my water bottle and my pain meds. It HURTS first thing in the morning and getting up that one time is pretty tough. I have always been very active (ran the boston marathon in April 2011) and have a very strong core. I am so grateful for that because I am using my abs for everything since I can't use my chest muscles or arms. But I now have bruises all up my legs from wrapping them around the bottom of the recliner when I'm trying to get up in the morning.
Otherwise, stool softener and flushible wipes, but in a place that you won't have to reach or twist much.
Help for bathing and plan on someone washing your hair in the sink. BEST feeling in the world for that first one!
We got a hand held showerhead so I can wash my arms and belly down, but I still need help with that.
I have had a TON of food given to me which just needed to be heated. That really helped too. And I've gone on small walks each day having someone with me. It has been great to feel myself getting stronger and less tired. Now I'm getting yelled at by everyone around me for not sitting still.
At this point, other than not reaching my arms up, the surgical bra, and the soreness in the morning, I am feeling SO much better than I had expected. I feel like with this site and the books I read, I was very prepared and ready for surgery. At a large family event yesterday, people could not believe how great I look. No one expected me to attend and all I heard from everyone was, "I can't believe you just had surgery just over a week ago! You look incredible. You would never know!"
Stay positive, but prepare as best as you can to be ready for anything.
OH! My anxiety. No other way for me to say it, it sucks being dependent on other for EVERYTHING, from getting coffee, a dish, washing my hair... everything. I have always been a very independent person and needing others to do things that 2 weeks ago I could do for myself has been tough. I wasn't expecting how I would feel with all of that, which has NOT been easy. Yesterday I was bawling my eyes out when I was having my hair washed in the sink.
It isn't easy but I know I'll get through it. Each day as it comes, right?