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Comfort Before and After Breast Surgery

By taking care of your body, mind and spirit during this time, you're on your way to restoring confidence.

If you are about to undergo or have undergone breast surgery, it’s natural to feel a certain loss of control. Focusing on the things that you can control is one way to minimize uncertainty. Anticipate and plan ahead for your needs and you will feel one step closer to a full recovery. 

Feel Prepared Before Breast Surgery woman with her doctor

First, consider contacting a local breast cancer organization and get in touch with someone who has been through the same procedure and treatment plan as you. Although every experience is unique, talking to someone may help you know what to expect. 

You will also want to ask your health team questions about your surgery and recovery. (See the checklist below.) Have a partner, friend, or family member write down the answers to the questions so you can refer to them later.

Questions to Ask Before Surgery

  • What type of procedure am I having?
  • How long is my hospital stay?
  • How long will I be in surgery?
  • Where will my incisions be and how long are they?
  • When will we get the results from pathology?
  • What are the possible side effects to my surgery and treatment?
  • Will I have a surgical drain?
  • How much will my mobility be affected by the procedure and for how long?
  • Are there medications or dietary supplements that I should stop taking prior to my surgery?
  • Do I need to bring a post-surgical garment to wear home from the hospital or will one be provided?
  • Can you help me with, or do you have a list of local stores that can provide me with, post-breast surgery products?  

You will also need to coordinate with friends and family to help with a few things such as arranging for transportation home from hospital, transportation to follow-up appointments, meals, and child or pet care.

Find Comfort After Your Surgery

Talking about what is happening to you — including your needs and fears — is almost always helpful. Your partner, a close friend, or someone who has had breast cancer can play a vital role as an understanding listener. What’s most important is that you are genuinely ready to open up and communicate the feelings you are experiencing. 

You will have to make many choices after surgery and it’s important to know that there are people available to help. Talk to your healthcare professional about services in your area that specialize in providing products for your post-surgery needs. A soft camisole to wear as you leave the hospital, for instance, can make a big difference in how you feel.

Here are a few other tips:

For Peace of Mind

  • Ease back into your days slowly. Don’t try to do all the things you would normally do. Get help with things like shopping, cooking, and childcare.
  • Eat nutritionally balanced foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats.
  • Rest during the day; try to get more sleep at night.
  • Maintain some level of regular activity, but don’t exhaust yourself. If you enjoyed swimming, running or other exercise before surgery, re-introduce it gradually into your daily plans.
  • Take time to relax and enjoy activities like reading, listening to music or meditation.
  • Join a support group. Many women find it extremely helpful to talk to other women who understand just what they are going through.

For Physical Comfort

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing made of breathable, natural fabrics like cotton, instead of tight tops or bras.
  • Check with your physician or nurse before using medicines, powders, creams, perfumes, ointments, lotions or home remedies during treatment.
  • Don't use heating pads, adhesives, medicated patches, or ice packs on skin that has had radiation treatment, and avoid sun exposure on your chest during treatment and for one year after treatment has finished.
  • Maintain an exercise program that is recommended by your doctor.

Your body and mind work together to heal. Caring for yourself before and after surgery is an important part of that process.