You will need assistance from your caregiver when showering post-surgery. It will be difficult for you to wash your hair (if you have not had chemotherapy) and your body due to lack of movement of your arms. My doctor recommended body wash that was gentle on the skin and odorless. A small sponge was used when washing my body. My doctor suggested dabbing and not rubbing on the tender areas of my body when using the sponge. I was also told to not face the shower faucet. I purchased a detachable shower head. It was nice to have a flexible shower head when washing. I also purchased a shower seat to sit on while showering. The handles on the shower seat served multiple purposes, I used them to hold onto, place a dry washcloth there in case water got in my eyes, or to hold my drains if I wasn’t wearing my shower belt. (The shower belt is discussed in another post.) I was weak after surgery and standing would have been difficult for me. I also sat on the shower seat in my bedroom when my caregiver dried my hair. My robe also had pockets, so I put my drains in those if I was not wearing my shower belt.
With any type of breast surgery, the drains will need tending to. The drains will need to be stripped and emptied about 3 times a day, especially right after surgery. Before you are released from the hospital, the nurse will show your caregiver the proper way to strip and empty the drains. It is recommended to use alcohol pads when stripping the drains. My caregiver used these alcohol pads to help push the fluid out, starting from the top. After the drains are emptied and the amount is recorded, the drains are placed in the scrub pockets. My caregiver safety pinned the tubes to the scrub pockets so that were secure and would not get caught on anything.
The quote above explained how I felt about my drains. Every time I went to the plastic surgeon for check-ups, I would show him my drain chart knowing that my fluid levels were too high. I had drains for 3-4 weeks and boy was I happy when they were removed! 🙂 The Anchor – Edition 8 was dedicated to the removal of my last drain and crush the cup!
Buttons, zippers, and clasps will become your best friends post-surgery. Around the house, I wore my scrubs with buttons. When I left the house, I wore button down shirts. Wearing shirts with buttons made it easy at the doctor’s office when I had to change into a gown.
After surgery, my surgeon gave me a compression bra to wear, but it was very uncomfortable. I purchased post mastectomy bras from Amazon with clasps. I also purchased sports bras from Amazon with zippers. I was unsure about what size to order after surgery, so I bought and washed various bras so that I would be prepared to wear them at home. Looking back, I would have ordered the bras from Amazon not so far in advance and would have not washed them until I knew that they fit, so that I would have been able to return them before the 30 day limit. The problem was that none of them fit, so my mom had to go to Dillard’s to purchase bras that fit. Dillard’s has a line of bras for women that have had mastectomies. A friend and breast cancer survivor said that she wore a tank top with a self bra post surgery.
As a women diagnosed with breast cancer, you will most likely have surgery to remove the cancer. Every women is in a different situation and you and your doctor will make the decision that is best for you.
Regardless of the type of surgery that you choose, I suggest that you purchase scrubs with pockets to wear while you are recovering. I lived in my scrubs for weeks after my surgery and the pockets held the drains nicely. I ordered two different pairs of Butter-Soft scrubs. Make sure that you order scrubs that button in the front, it makes it easier to take the scrubs on and off because you will not be able to lift your arms over your head after surgery