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Useful products for post mastectomy produc
Paddy161
16 Posts
I am scheduled for a single mastectomy dec. 17 and am hoping to be prepared with useful products I might need to feel comfortable.

I am having an expander and then radiation after healing from that.

any thoughts and recommendations would be helpful. Thankyou.
17 Replies
Runner Girl
2320 Posts

@Paddy161

Great to have a little time before your surgery to get things organized.

I had a lumpectomy so not much help for you, but I'm going to tag a couple of ladies who can share their experience - @cancertakesflight @Buffythevampire

Runner Girl

@Paddy161 What I wore to the hospital was slip on shoes, baggy button front top and pull on pants. The drive home I had a Velcro closure rectangular pillow that I put on the seatbelt. I was wearing a compression bra when I left the hospital that was supplied by the Hospital. It looks like a smocked tube top and it comes with removable straps. Once I was wearing normal clothes, the bra I wore had a wide band and it was probably larger then I should be wearing as I found bras tight. The tops I wore were baggy as I was a little self-conscience for a while. Until I could comfortably dress myself I wore button front tops including my pj's. If you're getting lymph nodes removed then you will have difficulty raising your arms for a while. You should be given exercises from the hospital that will help you to regain your arm movements. You can use a lanyard for the surgical drain but I think I just used a safety pin and pinned it to the inside of my top and sometimes I used a fanny pack.

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hailo
8 Posts

@Paddy161

I brought too much stuff to the hospital on surgery day, foolishly thinking I might need my water bottle or a power bank. I'd suggest to bring as few things as possible to the hospital - easy to wear shoes/shirt/pants. Forget the purse, just bring your health card in your pocket or small wallet. I also brought a case for my glasses (that would have gotten crushed by all the stuff I brought) .

Have your ride bring a small pillow to strap onto the seatbelt; barring that, a tea towel folded up should suffice. I was given a post surgical camisole (for free!) by the lovely ladies at Elizabeth's Mastectomy Boutique in Oshawa - you wear it by standing in it and pull it up over you, instead of trying to put it on top down. Definitely helped the first few days as I was wrapped up with tensor bandages and couldn't raise my arm up. Any store selling clothes of that nature should have those - it has built in pockets for drainage bags.

Have easy to eat meals ready for the next few days, like soup or applesauce. I didn't end up eating solids for well over 24hours because I was so nauseous from the anesthesia.
Practice the exercises as soon as you are able to (see link below, if you weren't given the booklet).

exercises-after-breast-surgery-en.pdf


Good luck!

Wisesage
12 Posts

@Paddy161 i just had a bilateral mastectomy with expanders 6 days ago. I thought i was prepared but i would have a good understanding from your plastic surgeon on what they want post surgery. mine had told me to just pick up some inexpensive zippered front sports bras. I need to wear one 24-7 for 6 weeks. Well those walmart specials I ordered online that i thought would suffice were just so miserable and caused such discomfort. I was good in the compression wrap but had to switch over as per her instructions. i was lucky to pick up a special mastectomy bra locally to save my sanity. Super expensive but already feeling much better. i have good arm movement so am able to wear loose pullover tops but just in case have some soft button types available.

Paddy161
16 Posts

I was wondering about how to sleep. Should I purchase a particular kind of pillow for support or comfort?

Paddy161
16 Posts

Thankyou for the advise! I will be sure to get a clear understanding of post surgery info. From my plastic surgeon.

Paddy161
16 Posts

Thankyou for your response! I appreciate your insight and experience. Very helpful!

Paddy161
16 Posts

Thankyou so much for your response. All of this will be so helpful to me.

Wisesage
12 Posts

I just muddle through and have soft pillows to stuff where needed…good thing i am pretty much done at the end of the day. Think it will be easier once i ditch the drains. I never wanted to take the pain rx in the day but it can come in useful at night To help u sleep.

Reader62
16 Posts

I bought a wedge pillow to sleep on in bed. Was told I had to sleep on my back for so many weeks and being a side sleeper I knew I needed help. It took a bit of getting used to, but it sure helped. Also had to switch sides of the bed with hubby because I had a right mastectomy and found it easier to get in and out of bed on the left side.

Kit08
21 Posts

@Paddy161 Hi Paddy, I had a mastectomy on my left side with a flat closure. So I went free as a jaybird for at least 2 months! I found soft oversized T shirts worked great. Being oversized I could easily get them over my head and my arm in the arm hole. I pinned my drain to the inside of my shirts.

I slept with 5 pillows, 3 behind My head and back to prop me up like I was reading in bed and then one tucked into each side under my arms. This helped to keep me from having the urge to roll over And supported my arm. Once in bed and set up I actually slept very well!

If you take painkillers, remember to have some Metamucil etc on hand. They usually bind you up and you don’t want to feel any more uncomfortable.

I hope that helps. Wishing you all the best!

Island8
18 Posts

@Paddy161 Sending you positive healing thoughts for your upcoming surgery! I had a left mastectomy with axillary lymph node removal (no reconstruction) back in Sept and this is what helped me:

Make sure you are well hydrated before surgery (has also been shown to help if you are prone to nausea with anesthetic). Ask for water or juice post-surgery, have something available for the trip home. Snack is also good for the ride home since you won't have eaten for a while!

Make sure you have pain medications prescribed and ready the day of your surgery, I assumed the hospital would give me the meds at the time of release, but this was not the case, a day surgery nurse put a speed call into a local pharmacy so we could have the meds before we caught the ferry home. Likewise if you are prone to nausea with anesthetic (I am) have some nausea medication available for your trip home. They had already maxed me out on nausea meds post surgery, but the day nurse suggested a bit of Gravol if I needed it for the trip home.

Ditto to Runner Girl: slip on shoes, pull on pants, I wore a front zipper hoodie, had a small pillow for the seat belt, and another pillow behind my back for ride home. My wardrobe for the first month or so has consisted mainly of hoodies and front button flannel shirts. Insulated sleeveless vests are also great over a hoodie in the cooler weather.

Pillows! Pillows! Pillows! I built a pillow fortress in my bed, usually three pillows behind my head and shoulders (I found it very uncomfortable flat on my back for the first few weeks), a smaller pillow to raise up my left arm, a pillow underneath my knees eased pressure on my low back. Gradually started to experiment with laying on my unaffected side during the night so I could switch from my side to my back.

Soft, silky materials are the most comfortable, just feel really good against the skin which can be pretty sensitive. I had a stretchy silky racer back tank top (cut low under the arm) which has been a favourite. I could easily lower the straps and take off by stepping my feet through - since I couldn't raise anything over my head for the first few weeks. (Everyone is different - you may have more range of motion than I did.)

Drains were the most inconvenient . . . I pinned them up underneath my shirt or hoodie. There are also specialty stores that sell a special camisole with an inside pocket. I had a compression wrap for the first week and couldn't shower, so simply took sponge baths. The drains were removed after a week.

Range of motion exercises: really, really important! You should receive a handout from your surgeon, and most of the national cancer agencies have exercise handouts for post surgery.

One of the best things I did to help in post surgical recovery was to find an excellent physiotherapist with lymphedema training (I don't have lymphedema, but if it ever develops, I figure I'll already have a great physiotherapist I am connected with.) I had some problems regaining movement range in my left arm and shoulder area and the physio has helped immensely.

Will be thinking of you, take care.

Mee
68 Posts

Hi @Paddy161 ,

I had a single left-sided mastectomy in August, 2021, and the best thing I had was a post-surgical compression camisole with pockets for drains that the RN helped me put on after the surgery; it was provided free of charge by BodyMed Boutique in Burlington (thank you, Barb!). On the day of surgery, wear easy-to-remove clothing (slip-on shoes, pull-on pants, zip- or button-front top), and don't bring too much else (health card in pocket). As others have mentioned, have ready-prepared meals frozen or available (I was fortunate that a friend stayed with me for a week post-surgery to prepare meals and help out as needed). I was told to sleep on my back post-surgery, but however is comfortable for you, with/without as many pillows as you like is best. My drain stayed in for over 4 weeks! Just take it easy and it's very important to start your ROM exercises as soon as possible. I had a nerve block, so didn't require pain meds, but if you need them, use them; it's best to stay ahead of the pain, not try to play “catch-up”. Be kind to yourself. That's all from Mee! :)

Jomilks
37 Posts

Hi @Paddy161 I am sharing a YouTube post from a person I follow who is a specialist in cancer rehab. i have found some posts very helpful. I hope you find it useful.

@Paddy161 It's amazing to me to see the list of suggestions and how many are similar and how many are different. It really speaks to having cancer as a commonality, there are still a lot of differences to what we need and use post mastectomy.

In 2011, I had a mastectomy of my left breast and had about 22 lymph nodes removed. Like others, I wore slip-on shoes and a top that zipped up the front. My pants were also pull on to keep things easy. I used a pillow behind my seatbelt to protect my incision. I didn't have to wear anything specific to the surgery. I did get a free camisole from Hope Spring in Waterloo, Ontario but after I had my drains removed, so I didn't get to use the pockets for the drains. I did however use it when I was going through radiation. I was working at the time and bras were uncomfortable, so the camisole and the fake boobs that came with it came in handy.

As for sleeping. I was never told to sleep on my back. My husband is probably grateful that I actually slept on my side or I would have snored all night. I normally sleep on my right side and my surgery was on my left side. I basically trained myself to sleep with my left arm locked to the side of my body so that I wouldn't lie on my drains. I was so well trained that I continued to sleep in that position for years after my drains were removed. I didn't use any extra pillows. I usually fall asleep almost before my head hits the pillow and I was pretty much the same right after my surgery.

I used multiple techniques to deal with my drains. I pinned them to my tops as others suggested. I was actually allowed to shower with my drains in so my husband made a daisy chain of elastics so that I could wear my drains and keep my hands free. My drains looked like a pendant on a necklace.

And, as others have said, make sure you do your exercises. I couldn't even leave the hospital until I met with a physiotherapist to review my exercises.

Please let us know how your surgery goes and which options worked best for you.

cancertakesflight

Thewasp
6 Posts

Hi@paddy161….I took a zip up jacket that had pockets inside. At my hospital ,they use hemovac drains that I found quite large. It still fit in the inside pocket nicely. Some hospitals use bulbs which are much smaller. I also bought a wedge pillow online and that was a game changer. I used it every night for the first 2 weeks. I also used a pillow for my left arm (left mastectomy). Hope this helps and good luck with your surgery.

Hi.
I did a double mastectomy with lymph removal on R in aug 2021. I will share my learnings. Take away whatever you find helpful.

post op mastectomy pillow. ordered on Amazon - may not work as well for single- it’s a rectangle across your chest, then goes under arms with arm pit cut out and then straps to click together at the back. it has ice pack spaces against your chest (I found I didn’t use pocket, ice pack stayed where I put it bc pillow was snug for comfort), it stays put, good chest coverage under seatbelt if you are passenger in car for appts, mine had a cell phone pocket on the front (we first laughed at the pocket but it was more useful than expected since had less range of motion than expected) and used for sleep to protect against affectionate cats. sadly I was so nauseous from anesthesia the first few days that I could also rest my vomit tray on the top of pillow 🙁 when feeling sick. it also didnt cover the stomach to allow for space for drains to hang (I had 3)

shower chair! I’m 4 months post surgery and mid 6 months chemo and I don’t think I will ever give up my shower chair

long phone charger or small battery pack. I used small battery pack a lot.

hand held shower head and dry shampoo. I couldn’t shower for 10 day above belly button and despite what I planned I was unable to position myself to wash my hair in sink. I found hand held shower head allowed me to freshen up below the waist without getting my chest and binder wet

wear binder backwards - once I had approval to remove binder for showering and laundering bc I had double mastectomy and placement of expanders the edges of each expander meet in the Center of my chest and would become irritated by the fabric covered Velcro. my partner suggested it backwards And helped me put it on. placed velcro just to either left or right of spine and found this helped for me * note that I was completely flat from double mastectomy

wedge for sleeping - you still need lots of pillows - head. arms. And below knees to decrease sliding down and take pressure off back. I found this took pressure off My chest as well. will admit was tough to get up but found I could get Some sleep - despite being a life long side sleeper. Had thought I would use on couch too but the one I ended up with was too wide for couch.

last But not least - button up tops. I bought a couple cozy new pj tops that were button up and raided partners closet of old button up options. He came up with quite a few around the house options to pick through.
Also a few zip hoodies if you don’t already have some baggy ones

take care all and enjoy the good days when they appear.

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