What You Need to be Prepared For Mastectomy Recovery

Mastecomy Recovery - Find out what Mastectomy clothing and other helpful items you will want for your Mastectomy recovery without spending more than you need to.

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 a gross and painful process. 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.  

Post Mastectomy Hoodie with Drain Pockets by Kelly Bee Designs


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:

Women’s Zip Front Post Surgery Bra

Mastectomy Zip Front Bra



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. 

Bed Wedge Pillow for Sleeping*

Mastectomy bed surgery wedge pillow

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.

Mastectomy Comfort Pillow by SewlyOne

Mastectomy Recovery Pillow Breast Cancer Post Op

Here are some perfectly sized hot or cold reusable ice packs to put in those pillows. Microwave or freeze.

3x5 Gel Ice Pack Reusable*

Hot Cold ice pack mastectomy surgery scar

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. 

Dry Shampoo by Living Proof                                 

           Living proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo, 7.3 oz: Premium  Beauty     
   Batiste Dry Shampoo Natural & Light Bare 200 ml


Try a no-rinse foam cleanser to stay fresh when you can't shower. Just soap up and wipe off. Perfect for surgical recovery. 

Medline Remedy Phytoplex Hydrating No Rinse Cleansing Foam*

Other options include these no-rinse bathing wipes. They are pre-moistened wipes that you can microwave for a warm bath experience. 

No Rinse Microwaveable Cleansing Wipes


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.  Get a free one from me with the purchase of any two mastectomy garments!

Shower Lanyard by Kelly Bee Designs


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.

First Aid Only First Aid Kit*


 Kelly Bee Surgical Drain Care Kit in "Fight" Cosmetic Bag

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. 

Mastectomy surgical drain care kit breast cancer

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. 




*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases


  • I just found out I have to have my second mastectomy after 20 years. There’s so many things to help you in your recovery now. I’m 64 and on a limited income. So I’ll have to find a way to get some of these things that will really help me . Like the items for your drains the tops cover ups and bars and pillows. The pillow that props up your back and your legs. I wish they had these things the first time I had to do to go through this. Thank God they do now.

    Leatrice Eveline
  • Thank you for this info – really helpful

  • I live in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada. My sister is having a double mastectomy this Tuesday, the 11th. Just trying to source recovery shirts/cami for her in a timely fashion.
    Can you help us? My # is 519-207-1181…OK to text as well. Thank you. Where are you located?

    Judy Holtby
  • Thanks for the kind words! I ship out within 3 business days. I can almost always get an order out sooner if needed. Send me a message at with any questions.

  • Double mast sept 12. Scared and want to order. How fast can i get the tank tops? Ty✝️


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