This post about my mastectomy recovery essentials contains affiliate links.
In case you didn’t know in June 2023 I was diagnosed with dual invasive carcinoma aka breast cancer. I finished my chemotherapy and breast cancer treatment in September and due to having the BRCA2 gene had to have a double mastectomy in October 2023.
I didn’t think the post-mastectomy care was too bad, but you’re definitely out of commission for at least two weeks. The healing process takes time and you definitely need to be a good patient and stay home and focus on your health.
Most mastectomy patients stay overnight at the hospital after breast surgery and reconstruction so the plastic surgeon can monitor the drain output and incisions after surgery. Once that’s done you can get back home and to your own bed and take your mastectomy care into your own hands.
I’m thankfully on the mend post-surgery and today thought I’d share a few of my mastectomy recovery essentials in case you’re in the same boat.
My Mastectomy Recovery Essentials
Wedge Pillow for Sleeping
After surgery, you have to sleep at an incline and on your back for 4-6 weeks. You could always stack a bunch of pillows on top of each other, but this wedge pillow was great. Sleeping at an incline with the drains is uncomfortable at first, not going to lie. But you get used to it after a few days.
Compression/ Surgical Bra
My doctor recommended I wear a compression bra for the foreseeable future so I got this three-pack on Amazon. I had a problem with my underarm since they took a lymph node out so I just put the padded part of a sports bra under there to keep it from getting irritated. Compression bras also are uncomfortable at first since you’re sore in different places from surgery but the general chest area has so feeling. Going back to a normal bra after a few weeks felt weird and took some getting used to.
Hoodie with Pockets for Surgical Drains
One of my friends got me this zip-up hoodie with pockets on the inside for surgical drains. It’s loose, comfortable, and perfect for slipping on and off. There were also days when I’d safety pin my drains to my compression bra. But this jacket was the easiest to slip on and off for doctor visits or to go out for a walk when I was going stir crazy.
I lost all my hair during chemo so this didn’t apply to me, but you can’t shower with your surgical drains in. So have dry shampoo on hand to keep your hair from looking too greasy and out of hand.
As I said above, my doctor didn’t let me shower with my surgical drains in. I went almost three weeks with no shower! You can get really stinky after a while so have some body wipes on hand to wipe yourself off and feel a little cleaner. The first shower after feels glorious by the way!
The #1 thing I recommend the most is the chest pillow with pockets. I wore this nonstop and actually still wear it to sleep. It helps if you have dogs that like to lay on you or if your arm movement is limited. Plus you can put things like the TV remote or your phone in your pockets. You can also wear it while driving if the seatbelt is too much on your incisions.
Seat Belt Strap
The seat belt to cars may bother your chest post-mastectomy. So put these seat belt straps on your seat belt to make it a little cushier across your chest. As I said above I also use the chest pillow in the car too which has helped. It also helps if you still have your chemo port in.
The Biggest Mastectomy Recovery Essential? Someone to Help You
For the first few days after I needed a little extra support getting up and down, taking the dogs out, going to the bathroom, cleaning, etc. You can’t lift your arms over your head, bend over, or lift anything.
Hopefully, if you have any kind of breast cancer surgery you have people who will help you in the recovery process. If you don’t know what to do for a loved one during this time send Door Dash, Uber Eats, or Grub Hub gift cards. You can also send flowers, a card, or text and check in for support! A simple “I’m thinking about you” goes a long way.