Must-Haves for Recovery after Mastectomy

After undergoing a mastectomy procedure, one of the most popular methods of treating breast cancer, it is vital to have the right recovery plan in place. This includes having the essential items that will aid the healing process.

Understanding Mastectomy Recovery

Before diving into the must-haves, it is essential to have a good understanding of the mastectomy recovery process. This will help the patient prepare better for the journey ahead. The average stay for patients in the hospital after a mastectomy is 1-3 days, but it could be more if the patient opts for a reconstruction. Complete recovery in most women can take up to 4 weeks, and months for others who have a radical mastectomy or reconstruction.

Pain Management

Pain after mastectomy can be intense. While coping with this pain, the patient will have to take medications, care for the incision, exercise the arm and shoulder, and deal with numbness. The sutures used by the surgeon will dissolve on their own, so it is unlikely that the patient will have to return to the hospital to have them removed.

Chronic pain happens due to nerve damage during a mastectomy and occurs in 20 to 30 percent of women who have had the surgery. Some treatment options for pain after mastectomy include:

Pain medication options

Prescription and over-the-counter pain medications can be used to manage pain after mastectomy. The doctor will recommend the best option based on the patient’s pain levels. If there is little or no pain after the breast surgery, patients have to take medication for 1-5 days. Patients with reconstruction have to take prescribed pain medication and muscle relaxants for the first week. Then, medicines like Tylenol and ibuprofen are taken during the following week. A patient with kidney or heart problems should not take ibuprofen.

Some surgeons can use the new approach called ERAS (Enhanced Recovery After Surgery). This method can ease pain and prevent the use of opioids for up to four days. Drugs used for this method include lidocaine and Exparel. The patient can ask the doctor about this protocol.

Natural remedies for pain relief

Natural remedies like acupuncture, massage, yoga, and herbal supplements can also provide some relief. Natural remedies are very effective when therapies are tailored to the needs of the individual. Remedies like hypnosis has been found to improve pain for many patients. Music therapy is used for pain control in cancer patients.

Recommendations from Breast Cancer Patients and Physicians

It is important to have a plan before surgery to ensure a smoother recovery period. There are recommendations from breast cancer patients and physicians to help people prepping for a mastectomy. We have reviewed the recommendations and compiled a list of some of the most popular items that provide comfort after the mastectomy.

How to prep at home before surgery

Preparing for recovery at home can be done by setting up a comfortable recovery space. Stock up on the following items:

  • Pillows
  • Clothes
  • Dry shampoo
  • Cleansing wipes
  • A comfortable chair or recliner

Before going to the hospital, you also need to prepare your home for when you return from surgery, as your movements will be limited. Place commonly used items like clothes, plates, meals, utensils, and toiletries close by. A notebook for tracking medications or follow-up appointments with your surgeon is important.

How to prep for the hospital

It is essential to have the right items packed in a hospital bag before surgery. Some essential items include:

  • Paper
  • Comfortable clothing (no need for bras as there will be a surgical bra at the hospital)
  • Loose shirts
  • Devices and chargers
  • A book or tablet

Essential Items for Post-Surgery Care

Post-surgery recovery requires specific types of care, including:

Mastectomy pillows for comfortable sleep

Recovery after mastectomy involves sleeping on the back for weeks or even months, which could be painful, especially if the patient opts for a reconstruction. A mastectomy pillow can provide much-needed comfort and support and relieve strain on the surgical incision. These pillows are designed to support the neck, shoulders, and back. The best ones are neither firm nor soft, with wedges, and are easy to carry.

Drain management tools and accessories

Drain management post-surgery is essential. Drain cleaning kits, lanyards, and bags are tools and accessories for the patient to drain the area where the breast was removed and care for the incision.

Shower seats and detachable shower heads for more accessible bathing

Showering can be challenging after surgery, especially when lifting the arms, as the patient will be weak. Shower seats and detachable shower heads make it a lot easier to stay clean.

Soft fabric clothing and bathrobes with pockets for convenience

Soft and comfortable clothing, including loose-fitting tops, zip-up hoodies, and bathrobes, makes it easy to change and move around post-surgery. Pockets are necessary for carrying important items like phones, medications, and tissues. The patient can also slip cold gel packs into light cotton bras with pockets to hasten recovery. This can deliver up to 45 minutes of relief from pain and swelling.

Personal Care Products for Mastectomy Patients

Personal care products are essential for maintaining hygiene and overall comfort post-surgery. Some of these include:

Dry shampoo for hair care

Showering can be challenging after surgery, especially for hair. Dry shampoo uses alcohol to mask oil and absorb sweat and dirt from hair. This mask is a temporary alternative for cleaning hair until the patient has recovered. See how you can find a suitable dry shampoo to keep the hair healthy.

Sore throat lozenges and throat care products

A sore throat is a common complaint after surgery, and lozenges and other throat care products can help to alleviate discomfort.

Adjustable straps and underarm relief for mastectomy bras

Mastectomy bras are designed to provide comfort and support post-surgery. Adjustable straps and underarm relief features are important for ensuring a perfect fit. You can purchase one that allows the patient to pull over the body without lifting arms.

Additional Resources for Mastectomy Recovery

Several websites and organizations provide invaluable resources for patients recovering from mastectomy. These include educational resources, support groups, and other initiatives to provide care and comfort to patients.

This is a large cancer research organization that funds research on various aspects of cancer, from its causes to prevention and treatment.

This organization provides cancer patients with free support, information, and additional resources.

This online community provides personalized information and support throughout the patient’s diagnosis.

You can find a list of resources to find support groups in your area.





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