Mastectomy Recovery - Everything You Need to be Prepared
Mastecomy Recovery Tips and Gift Ideas
Everything you need to get through your mastectomy recovery smoothly or to put together the perfect mastectomy care package for a loved one.
I really didn’t know much about what was involved with a mastectomy or mastectomy recovery before I had one. I think I was in denial and didn't really want to know. It was only a week before my surgery that I found out I would leave the hospital with four surgical drains hanging out of my body to collect excess fluid that would build up from the surgery. These would stay in for two weeks and needed to be drained four times a day. It was not a fun task. I had no idea what I was supposed to do with these drains. I consulted a friend who had gone through the surgery recently and she described a frustrating process of pinning the drains to the inside of your shirt so they weren’t just hanging out and painfully swinging around. Each one would then need to be unpinned and then repinned four times a day for draining. At the time of my surgery, there was very little information out there about preparing for a mastectomy. When I finally got up the nerve to start doing some internet research, I was very disappointed to find so little information available.
Here are my recommendations for some things to help get you through your cancer journey feeling normal during a very abnormal time. These items also won't break the bank, because you will only need them for a short time so why spend more than you need to.
Zip or Button Front Tops
You will not be able to lift your arms after your surgery, so any kind of button down or zip up shirt is essential. Bonus if it has pockets for the drains! There are a lot of options out there for mastectomy clothing and surgical recovery garments, but a lot of them are expensive and look like surgical garments. This was my main reason for creating Kelly Bee Designs and why my post mastectomy zip up hoodie is a best seller. It looks just like a regular hoodie so you can leave the house feeling normal. Plus, you can still wear it after your surgery and it has adorable fabric for the pockets with the option to customize.
Hook or Zip Front Bras
Your doctor might give you a surgical bra when you leave the hospital, but you will want at least one more. You will need something that zips or buttons in the front. Here is a reasonably priced option that can also be worn after surgery as a sports bra:
Mastectomy Pillows and Sleeping
Full disclosure here, sleeping is not going to be fun for a little while. You will want to sleep at an incline to relieve some pressure and help with the drains. You can either pile up a whole bunch of pillows or get one of these wedge pillows to help.
These heart shaped mastectomy pillows made by SewlyOne can be placed under the arms after surgery to prevent rubbing tender areas and for comfort and support. There is an adjustable ribbon strap to hold it secure as well as a pocket that can hold a small ice or heat pack near the surgical site. There are also lots of beautiful fabrics to choose from. This would make a great mastectomy recovery gift as they are not only functional but also made with beautiful fabrics.
Here are some perfectly sized hot or cold reusable ice packs to put in those pillows. Microwave or freeze.
Personal Care Products
You are not going to be able to shower for a while after surgery if you come home with surgical drains. And even if you could, you won't be able to lift your arms to wash your hair. Dry shampoo is a great option during this period, or whenever you want to extend the time between shampoos. I currently use this one by Living Proof and highly recommend it. I also listed a cheaper option, by Batiste, that has really good reviews on Amazon and comes in a variety of scents.
Try a no-rinse foam cleanser to stay fresh when you can't shower. Just soap up and wipe off. Perfect for surgical recovery.
Other options include these no-rinse bathing wipes. They are pre-moistened wipes that you can microwave for a warm bath experience.
If you do get the ok to shower with your drains still in, you will need a way to keep the drains held up so that you have use of your hands. All you need is a simple lanyard like the one below. Put it around your neck and put the drains tubes in the clasp. You can put them behind your back to keep them from getting too wet.
Surgical Drain Care
Here are a few products I recommend keeping on hand to help keep your drains and surgical site clean and dry for quick healing: Alcohol Wipes, Hand Sanitizer, Gauze Pads and Medical Tape. This first aid kit has everything you need and then some.
This cosmetic bag is perfect to throw in with a breast cancer or mastectomy gift. Comes with some drain care supplies to get you started and a cute cosmetic bag you can continue to use after.
The breast cancer journey is long and hard. I am hoping to help make it a little bit easier. I would love to hear about what products or things you found most helpful during your mastectomy recovery. Sign up below to stay posted on new items added.