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Single mastectomy no reconstruction

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Hello. I will be getting a single right breast mastectomy next month. I will be going flat, no reconstruction. What are or were some of your must haves after surgery and for recovery? Is it bad? Painful?

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  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,147
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    BlueGreen - belowis the link to a BCO thread that's all about surgery. https://community.breastcancer.org/forum/91/topics...

    I'd also advise joining the current surgery group & maybe reading the one before. Good luck


  • juju-mar
    juju-mar Member Posts: 200
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    BlueGreenBaby,

    I am 10 months out from my single right mastectomy to aesthetic flat closure. My surgeon did a nerve block at the time of surgery and honestly, I had very little pain. Tylenol alternating with Motrin was all I needed for the first few days. The hardest part is dealing with the drains. I had 2. The first came out about a week after surgery, the second drain came out on day 22 and then became infected. It delayed radiation for about a month. But I am currently cancer free. Ask for what stretches you should do after surgery, they should send info home with you at discharge. Good luck!

    Julie

    Jujuscancerjourney.Wordpress.co

  • BlueGreenBaby
    BlueGreenBaby Member Posts: 23
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    Juju, did you find you were unable to lift your arm? I keep seeing recommendations to get button up shirts and pajamas. I honestly don't feel like spending money n all that stuff that I'm only going to wear for a few weeks. Did you need drain holders too? For the shower as well? A special bra? I have no money for this!

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,147
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    BlueGreen - Yes, you will need a button up shirt or two. Go to Good Will & get a couple - men's or women's since you'll just be at your house. You will not be able to raise your arms to pull down anything over your head. Yes - you'll need something to hold the drains. I found a sweat shirt with a zipper & inside pockets that worked well. Yes - you can pin drains to your clothes, but not a light weight shirt. They get heavy. For showering I got a neck/badge holder & pinned the drains to that. Yes, you will need a special bra - but the hospital put one on me during surgery and gave me another one to take home..

    Yes, most docs to not let you lift your arms above your shoulders for at least a week - maybe two Put what ever you need in your cabinets down lower. And most will not even let you lift a gallon of milk for some time.

    All these and MORE are things you should discuss with your doctor. Each doc may have a specific protocol - and there is a reason. You REALLY don't want to pull the interior stitches. They should give you special exercises - like walking your fingers up a wall only so high. It's a good idea to follow what your doctor ways.

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,403
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    BlueGreenBaby--you don't need to buy a lot of stuff. If you have gowns/PJs/T-shirts that are stretchy material you will probably be able to get them on by putting one arm in at a time and using your good arm to wrestle the garment on over your head. (Just make sure the surgical side arm isn't lifted more than shoulder height.) That's what I did and it worked fine. You can pick up a "nail apron" from Home Depot or Lowes for about $2 that ties around your waist and will hold the drains comfortably. Plus you'll look fashionable with HOME DEPOT plastered across your tummy! When you shower, tie a long ribbon, cord or shoelace around your neck to hold the drains.

    The hospital sent me home with 2 bras, so if they don't give them to you, ASK. Your surgeon might not want you to wear bras for a while anyway, though. I wore soft cotton knit nightshirts around the house for a couple of weeks; just stuff I already had.

    Try not to worry; you'll figure it out. Please don't stress about this stuff; there's no need to spend a lot of money. Hugs.

  • LivinLife
    LivinLife Member Posts: 301
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    I had a BMX with aesthetic flat closure. I ditto what the others have said. I only needed Ibuprofen alternating with Tylenol every 6 hours for several days and by a week out was doing less than that. I did purchase a cheap mesh drain holder on Amazon for the shower. Not all surgeons let you shower while you have drains in though mine did. I went to the Clearance rack for a few button down shirts. I also live alone so put everything at shoulder level or below and poured laundry detergent (very large heavy container) into empty 20 ounce water bottles. I was unable to lift my arms above my shoulders for 5 or so weeks. No driving until drains were out either though I had to on one occasion. The surgeon seemed to know people do though if there's an accident etc. and insurance finds out one has drains in they may not (or won't) cover.... Best to you!!

  • threetree
    threetree Member Posts: 1,422
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    I had a single left mastectomy and found the surgery more psychologically/mentally painful than physically so. I took a standard dose of Tylenol for a day, maybe two, and I actually think I could have gotten by without it. I was pleasantly surprised at how unpainful things were. They make, sell, and push a lot of specialized post surgical wear that I think can be skipped for sure. I did buy a new pair of pajamas with button front, based on what I had read, but when I got home, I was able to put on my old loose nightgowns, and pullover shirts just as easily as button up pajamas and shirts. You can do a lot with just one arm/hand. I also had a couple of "around the house" shirts that buttoned up front and they did fine. The only thing I broke down and bought besides the pajamas (that I liked and wanted anyway; still wear today 3.5 years later), was a mesh belt for the drains that I saw on Amazon. I think it might have been about 15 bucks or so - probably more now with all the inflation we are experiencing. It did help a lot for the shower and then around the house with the drain. It had pockets for at least 2, but I only had one, and it fit well under my shirts for the 2 weeks I needed it.

    Re bras, I never bought anything special. I woke up from the surgery bound up in some sort of huge ace bandage type thing that stayed on for probably a week or so, until my first follow up with the surgeon. Then it came off and I never used anything but a couple of front fastening "leisure bras" that I had for around the house anyway. That's still all I wear these days.

    I would be cautious about all that stuff they sell and all that stuff they push and tell you to take with you to the hospital. I was actually there for several days (no complications, just a very nice, kind "old fashioned" surgeon who knew I lived alone and wanted me to have as much time at the hospital before going home as possible), and never read any books or magazines. I also never wore my own pajamas or bathrobe. The hospital issue stuff served just fine. I also had a lovely window view where I saw all the young couples coming and going to either have or go home with their new babies, all their visitors, etc. The hospital TV, my phone, and the sights outside my window, along with a few phone calls and a couple of visits from friends seemed to be enough to keep me occupied and content. I did put a lot of things I use at counter level before I went to the hospital and that did turn out to be useful when I got home. I really didn't have as much trouble as I anticipated and just being able to lift your arm straight out front gives you a lot of leeway. I did hold off on lifting of course and since I live alone, it wasn't really a problem - no kids, pets, etc. to lift, and just let everything else go for awhile.

    I wound up with more pain and stiffness problems way after the surgery and radiation, so those stretches have become all important for me all this time later.

    Wishing you lots of luck!

  • juju-mar
    juju-mar Member Posts: 200
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    my surgeons office gave me a lanyard to wear for the drains in the shower. I did buy 2 front zip bras. I was surprised how I felt pretty normal after surgery. Ask how soon you can begin the stretches. My office did not give me that info til my 3 week check up, that was an error. I should have been doing stretches all along. Now almost a year out, I have 99% mobility in that shoulder and arm. I do see a PT lady for lymphedema massage to avoid getting lymphedema. Good luck.

    Juli

  • BlueGreenBaby
    BlueGreenBaby Member Posts: 23
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    Thank you all!

  • blums8
    blums8 Member Posts: 18
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    I am so happy to see that there are other women that choose going flat. I am still in the middle of chemotherapy so I don't have to make my decision until late June. I am inclined to go flat but am a little nervous. I want the least amount of surgery as possible. I am 65 years old and small breasted and just don't want what I perceive as foreign body inside of me.

    Having said that, I would still love input on how other women feel after choosing this option.


    Thanks,

    Janice

  • BlueGreenBaby
    BlueGreenBaby Member Posts: 23
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    I chose to go flat for the same reason, I wanted the least amount of surgery and the least amount of recovery time. I did not want anything foreign in my body. It's been 2 months so far, and I'm healing great. My other healthy breast is a B cup. I do have a prosthetic but I haven't really worn it much. Since it's still cool here. layers work to conceal. If your other breast is small it probably won't even be noticeable unless you wear tight clothing. Overall I'm happy about my decision to go flat. I've read some horror stories about implants and illness and such. I was never even considering implants.

  • beginagain22
    beginagain22 Member Posts: 100
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    Bluegreenbaby,

    I had DMX to flat to avoid more surgery. I have an active life, I love to exercise and I am not worried about breast or the lack there of. That is not said to take anything away from anyone who chooses lumpectomy or reconstruction. It just wasn't important to me personally. I was just ready to get the show on the road as far as getting back to things I wanted to do. It's such a personal decision. We all have to ick what works for us physically as well as emotionally

  • sunshine99
    sunshine99 Member Posts: 2,644
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    I, too, had a single mastectomy, right side, with no reconstruction. I'm an "almost" B cup, and if I wear the right bra, I don't need any filler or prosthesis. As I told an oncologist friend, I don't tilt when I walk. I thought about reconstruction but decided against it. My husband loves me with or without breasts. I have no regrets, but I agree that it is a very personal decision about what to do with YOUR body.

    Carol

  • miriandra
    miriandra Member Posts: 2,100
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    All the best with you upcoming procedures! There's been lots of great advice offered already. Listen to your body, and give yourself time to heal. Once you start your exercises, they will be uncomfortable at first, but they should never be crazy painful.

    If you don't plan on wearing a prosthesis on a regular basis, look into cute asymmetric tops. There are several online clothes boutiques (I like dresslily.com, but there are plenty of others) that have a lot of cowl neck or draped tops. I have found that styles with angles that flow downward towards your flat side sit comfortably on the eye - think of a peaceful hill with a river running downhill. It's very complimentary for an asymmetric body. I also recommend tops with three-dimensional detailing on the chest on your surgery side. This gives the illusion that both sides have depth.

    I can't post pictures, but here are some links you can check out for ideas.

    https://www.dresslily.com/asymmetrical-striped-con...

    https://www.dresslily.com/plus-size-space-dye-drap...

    https://www.dresslily.com/plus-size-velvet-cowl-fr...

    As for bras, I used to use the stick-on bras intended for backless dresses or plunge cut tops. But they don't offer a lot of support, even for a borderline B/C. I now typically wear cupless sports bras and am very comfortable. Lots of options available.

  • miriandra
    miriandra Member Posts: 2,100
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    Yay! Pictures are back!

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  • miriandra
    miriandra Member Posts: 2,100
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