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Mastectomy: After Surgery

The length of your hospital stay depends on the type of surgery you have. You’ll be given instructions to follow during recovery. Some women feel fine within a month. Others need a few more weeks. Take as much time as you need to adjust to the changes in your life and body.

Plastic drain
Once the drain is empty, squeeze the bulb with one hand while using the other hand to replace the plug.

Woman with drain
Remove the plug and measure the fluid as directed.

Right After Surgery

You will wake up in the recovery room, where you will be closely watched. You may have an IV for medications and fluids. Once fully awake, you will be taken to your room, where you can have visitors. Expect to be up and walking soon after surgery.

Your First Look

A few days after surgery, your dressing will be removed. Looking at your scar for the first time can be hard. You may feel most at ease taking this step at home. You may want to be alone, or you may want a friend to support you. Either way is okay. At first, try looking down rather than in the mirror.

At Home

You are likely to go home a few days after surgery. Before leaving, you will receive instructions on home care. You may have:

  • One or two soft plastic drains. These draw off fluid from around the incision. Be sure to empty your drain at least every 8 hours, or as directed. Remove the plug and empty the contents into the container provided. Measure the amount of fluid as directed. Write it down to show your doctor. The drainage will decrease as you heal. The drains will be removed at the doctor’s office.

  • A dressing over your incision. Care for the dressing as directed. Take sponge baths for now to avoid getting it wet.

  • Stitches at the incision site. They may dissolve on their own. Or they may be removed at your follow-up visit.

  • Pain medications to help relieve any discomfort. Medications should be taken as directed.

Online Medical Reviewer: Song, David H, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Wetter, L Albert, MD
Last Review Date: 12/28/2011
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.