How is recovery after breast removal (mastectomy)

Recovery after breast removal includes the use of medicines to relieve pain, the application of bandages and exercises so that the arm on the operated side remains mobile and strong, as it is common to remove the breast and the armpit waters. .

Generally, most women who have had a mastectomy, which is surgery to remove the breast or part of it due to cancer, are able to recover well after the procedure and do not develop complications, however complete recovery usually takes between 1 and 2 months.

However, the woman may need to undergo other treatments, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy, in addition to receiving psychological support from the family and participating in psychotherapy sessions, in order to learn how to deal with the absence of the breast.

Recovery after surgery

After surgery, hospitalization lasts between 2 to 5 days, and the post-operative period of mastectomy can cause chest and arm pain and tiredness. In addition, some women may experience decreased self-esteem due to breast removal.

1. How to relieve pain

After removal of the breast, the woman may experience pain in the chest and arm, in addition to feeling numb, which may decrease with the use of pain relievers.

In addition, the woman may experience phantom pain, which corresponds to the sensation of pain in the breast that was removed, shortly after surgery and remain for the following months, causing itching, pressure and discomfort. In that case, it is necessary to adapt to the pain and sometimes take anti-inflammatory drugs according to the doctor’s recommendation.

2. When to remove the drain

After the surgery, the woman is left with a drain in the breast or armpit, which is a container to drain blood and liquids accumulated in the body, which is usually removed before discharge. However, the woman may have to stay with him for up to 2 weeks, even when he is at home, in which case it is necessary to empty the drain and record the amount of liquid daily. See more about the drain after surgery.

3. How to treat a scar

After mastectomy, it is normal for women to have a scar on their chest and armpit, which will depend on the location, size of the tumor and the location where the surgical incision was made.

The dressing should only be changed at the recommendation of the doctor or nurse and usually occurs after 1 week. During the period in which the dressing is applied, the dressing should not be wet or hurt, to avoid possible infections that can be noticed through the appearance of some signs and symptoms, such as redness, heat or yellow liquid, for example. Therefore, it is recommended to keep the dressing dry and covered until the skin is fully healed.

In most cases, the suture is made with stitches that are absorbed by the body, however, in the case of staples, these must be removed after 7 to 10 days in the hospital and when the skin is fully healed, the skin must be hydrated. skin daily with a cream, such as Nivea or Dove, but only after doctor’s recommendation.

4. When to wear a bra

The bra should only be put on when the scar is fully healed, which may occur after 1 month. In addition, if the woman has not yet done the breast reconstruction, there are bras with padding or prosthesis, which give a natural contour to the breast. Get to know breast implants.

5. Exercises to move the arm on the affected side

Mastectomy recovery includes exercising daily to mobilize the arm on the side of the breast that has been removed, to prevent the arm and shoulder from becoming rigid. Initially, the exercises are very simple and can be done in bed, however, after removing the stitches and drains they become more active and must be indicated by the doctor or physiotherapist according to the severity of the surgery. Some good exercises include:

  • Raise arms: the woman must hold a barbell above her head, with her arms stretched for about 5 seconds;
  • Opening and closing the elbows:  lying down, the woman must fold her hands behind her head and open and close her arms;
  • Drag your arms on the wall: the woman should face the wall and put her hands on it, and should drag her arms on the wall until it rises above her head.

These exercises should be done daily and should be repeated 5 to 7 times, helping to maintain the mobility of the woman’s arm and shoulder.

Recovery in the months after surgery

After the surgery, the woman will need to keep some medical recommendations to fully recover. The operated site and the other breast should be observed every month and it is important to be aware of changes in the skin and the appearance of lumps, which should be told immediately to the doctor.

1. Take care of the arm on the breast removal side

After the surgery, the woman should avoid movements that require moving the arm a lot on the side the breast was removed from, such as driving, for example. In addition, you should not make repetitive movements, such as ironing and ironing clothes, cleaning the house with a broom or vacuum cleaner or swimming.

Thus, during recovery it is important that the woman has help from friends and family to help in carrying out day-to-day activities and personal hygiene.

In addition, the woman who has had breast removal should not take injections or vaccines, nor do treatments on the arm on the side of the removal, in addition to being very careful not to hurt that arm, as the languages ​​on that side are less efficient.

2. Provide emotional support

Recovering from a mastectomy can be difficult and emotionally leave a woman fragile, so the support of friends and family is very important. In addition, it is important that the woman knows the experience of other people who have had the same surgery to gain strength.

3. When to do breast reconstruction

Breast reconstruction can be done simultaneously with mastectomy or a few months later, with the placement of silicone prosthesis, body fat or muscle flap. The most suitable date depends on the type of cancer and should be decided with the surgeon.

See more about  how breast reconstruction is done .

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