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Topic: Post-Mastectomy - Bathing.

Forum: Surgery - Before, During, and After — Surgical options and helpful tips for recovery and side effects.

Posted on: Aug 21, 2020 04:17PM

Ciarratron wrote:

Hi everyone!

Been a minute since I was around these parts, but it’s been a good month since diagnosis.

I had my unilateral mastectomy 2 days ago - things went well as far as I know. I was terrified before surgery, but they gave me a sedative before taking me into the operating room, at which point I noticed they were listening to Amy Winehouse, and the last thing I remember before they knocked me out was saying “PARTY!”

Anyway, my surgeon and his receptionist said it was ok for me to take off my bandages and shower in 48 hours (so, today), but I’m seeing a lot of conflicting information from other women. I know that everyone’s dressings and bandages are different. I‘m not in tremendous pain, so I think I can do it, but I’ve got paper tape and gauze. I have shower guards and plastic wrap, and also a drain holder (I only have one drain). I can easily send my boyfriend to the pharmacy for replacement gauze and tape.

I’m in LA, it’s almost 100 degrees, and I have no air conditioning in my ancient apartment. I’m disgusting and sweating buckets, and worried about infection, but also worried about taking off my bandages too soon and hurting myself.

What would your advice be, if you were in my position?


My Cancer Blog: amostinconvenientcancer.wordpr... Dx 7/13/2020, DCIS/IDC, Left, 2cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 8/18/2020 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left
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Aug 21, 2020 04:34PM exbrnxgrl wrote:

Ciarratron,

Unless those “other women” are surgeons familiar with your case, there is no conflicting information. Please follow the instructions given by your doctor and don’t payattention to other women. As to the heat, a flexible ice pack on the neck helps or perhaps resting in a shady spot. Cool sponge baths work well too. Do you have any close family or friends with ac? That might be another way to go. I live in San Jose, without ac, and our weather has cooled a bit especially at night. I hope that cooling comes your way soon! Take care.

Bilateral mx 9/7/11 with one step ns reconstruction. As of 11/21/11, 2cm met to upper left femur Dx 7/8/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/7/2011 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Dx 11/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IV, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 11/21/2011 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 11/21/2011 Bone Hormonal Therapy 6/19/2014 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane)
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Aug 21, 2020 05:16PM Beesie wrote:


If your surgeon told you that you can take off the bandages after 48 hours, then you can. It doesn't matter what anyone's surgeon told them.

I actually had the same instructions both after my MX and after my exchange surgery. If I recall, after the MX, the only tape that had to stay on after 48 hours were the steristrips, which were placed straight along the incision, keeping it fully covered. My understanding is that those always should stay on for a week and in my experience they take longer than that to fall off on their own. After my exchange surgery, I was again allowed to remove the gauze bandages and all the tape after 48 hours, but underneath that my whole breast was covered with a clear plastic surgical tape (3M tegaderm) - I can't remember for sure but I think there were also steristrips over the incision, under that clear tape. The clear tape had to stay on until my follow-up appointment with the PS about 5 days later. That stuff is stuck tight and completely waterproof. So in both situations, once I took the gauze bandages off, I didn't need to replace it with any other bandaging and I was able to shower with no problems and without worrying about getting the remaining bandages (the steristrips and clear tape) wet, since they are fully waterproof.

The only bandaging I needed to regularly replace was to cover the small area near my underarm where the drain was stitched into me. I was instructed by a home-care nurse on that; I would remove the bandage whenever I milked the drain, then I would clean the area with an antiseptic alcohol pad (those small individual packets) and then I would cover with a new gauze pad and tape. Were you given instructions on drain care?



“No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke
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Aug 22, 2020 05:47PM Ciarratron wrote:

hey Bessie,

I was only instructed on how to empty my drains, and nothing else. My discharge packet was a total joke.

I wasn’t told to keep the area dry, or that I could get it wet, just some vague general instructions on showering.

The dressing came off on its own this morning because I’ve been sweating so much...incision looks good, and there are some Steri-Strips over it.

Again, My main concern is with how hot it is and the amount of sweat I’m producing. It’s currently 92 degrees in my room and I’m dying!

My Cancer Blog: amostinconvenientcancer.wordpr... Dx 7/13/2020, DCIS/IDC, Left, 2cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 8/18/2020 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left
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Aug 22, 2020 06:56PM exbrnxgrl wrote:

ciarratron,

92 is brutal! If no friends or family have ac, could you find a hotel room until the weather cools down? In the meantime, ice packs help as well as submerging your feet in cold water.

Bilateral mx 9/7/11 with one step ns reconstruction. As of 11/21/11, 2cm met to upper left femur Dx 7/8/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/7/2011 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Dx 11/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IV, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 11/21/2011 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 11/21/2011 Bone Hormonal Therapy 6/19/2014 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane)
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Aug 22, 2020 07:13PM Spookiesmom wrote:

Have a shower, stay hydrated, if you can’t find a/c, sit in front of a fan 92 is common here, I have a/c but not central. During the night I have 3 fans going in my room.

Reoccurrence 3-19. Dx IDC, Stage IIIA, Grade 3
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Aug 22, 2020 07:19PM bcincolorado wrote:

I was told with drains in I was not to shower but I could take a bath as long as not too deep if you feel need to just bathe. You can do a shallow bath at least and use cool water if can stand it. May at least help you feel better somewhat. Hopefully drains can come out soon and you can have a nice shower.

Dx 8/2009, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 1/7/2010 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left Hormonal Therapy 1/15/2010 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Hormonal Therapy 1/30/2016 Femara (letrozole)
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Aug 22, 2020 07:59PM exbrnxgrl wrote:

bcinColorado ,

Many plastic surgeons do permit showers even with drains in! Mine, like yours, did not but many do. I think we each need to follow our own surgeons instructions and call the surgeons office if they have questions

Bilateral mx 9/7/11 with one step ns reconstruction. As of 11/21/11, 2cm met to upper left femur Dx 7/8/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/7/2011 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Dx 11/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IV, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 11/21/2011 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 11/21/2011 Bone Hormonal Therapy 6/19/2014 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane)
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Aug 22, 2020 09:11PM Beesie wrote:

Ciarratron was told that she could shower after 48 hours, knowing that she'd still have drains at that time. I was told that I could shower with drains in, and gladly did! Yup, we need to follow the instructions of our own surgeons.


“No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke
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Aug 22, 2020 09:32PM MinusTwo wrote:

I was allowed to shower immediately as long as I wrapped Glad Press N/Seal around my surgery sites and the drain holes. Works like a charm.

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Aug 23, 2020 07:31PM Ciarratron wrote:

Ha! My surgeon also mentioned Glad Press n’ Seal.

I compromised - I was able to cover my drain site with Tegaderm and some surgical tape, and I cleaned around the area with some rubbing alcohol mixed with water. I have shower guards which I reinforced with surgical tape, and pinned my drain to a drain holder.

Used my shower nozzle to wash my lower half and bent way way back to wash my hair with one hand.

An ordeal, and I was nervous the whole time about fudging up the whole thing. But once I got myself dry, I took off all my plastic and everything underneath was bone dry.

Very very very happy. Thanks, ladies, for sharing your stories.

My Cancer Blog: amostinconvenientcancer.wordpr... Dx 7/13/2020, DCIS/IDC, Left, 2cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 8/18/2020 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left
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Aug 23, 2020 08:52PM Beesie wrote:

Glad it worked out well. I love Tegaderm - I was so happy when I found it at my local drug store. Tegaderm and steristrips are the only tapes that don't make me itch.

Now that you've done it once, it will be easier the next time. Another few times and then the drain will be out!

“No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke

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