After you return to your room, a nurse will frequently check
your temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and bandage. The nurse
will ask you to turn, cough, and breathe deeply to keep your lungs
clear after the anesthesia. You may also be encouraged to move your
feet and legs to improve your blood circulation. Although each
woman reacts to surgery differently, you will probably discover
that by the next day you will be able to drink some juice or broth
and, with help, to sit up in bed and walk from your bed to a chair
in your room. Your doctor will probably encourage you to walk
around and eat solid food as soon as possible.
You will be taking sponge baths for a few days after surgery
until your incision starts to heal. Before you leave the hospital,
ask the doctor or nurse for instructions on taking care of your
incision. When you have permission to bathe or shower, do so gently
and pat, don't rub, the area of your incision.
The average stay in the hospital is 7 to 10 days. Before you
leave, the tube that drains fluid from your incision will be
removed. Some of your stitches may also be removed before you leave
the hospital. The remaining stitches will be taken out within 1 to
3 weeks at the doctor's office or clinic.
With your doctor's permission, a Reach to Recovery volunteer may
visit you in the hospital. Reach to Recovery is an American Cancer
Society program that brings volunteers who have had mastectomies
together with breast cancer patients. A volunteer will be able to
discuss with you any concerns you may have about coping with your
mastectomy. She may also give you a lightweight, fiber-filled or
cotton breast form to fasten inside your bra, robe, or nightgown
while you are recuperating.