How to Care for Yourself After Breast Surgery

Written on:December 5, 2012
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There are a variety of reasons for why women (and sometimes men) might undergo breast surgery. Cosmetic surgeries include breast augmentation (breast enlargement), breast reduction, breast lift (breast reconstruction), and inverted nipple repair.

People who have breast cancer might have to undergo a lumpectomy (to remove an isolated tumor) or a mastectomy (either partial or whole breast removal).

Whatever the reason for a breast surgery, there is one common thread: they all require a considerable amount of recovery. If you are facing a breast surgery, or are a recent post-op patient, then these tips for how to take care of yourself after breast surgery can help you achieve optimal recovery:


Get Plenty of Rest

Your body needs to heal, and that means that a good portion of its resources are devoted to reparation of the breast site. This naturally means that you will be exhausted, and for good reason. Listen to your body. Give it the rest it needs so that it can focus on what’s most important – getting back to normal.


Avoid Complicating Habits

Smoking dramatically increases your chances of infection. Infection can seriously complicate the healing process, and even result in a hospital stay and unnecessarily long healing time. If you didn’t quit, or don’t plan on quitting, smoking before the surgery (which is what doctors emphatically recommend), then the time to quit is now).

Also, alcohol is a blood thinner. It only makes sense that you should avoid blood thinners while in recovery. Therefore, alcohol consumption has no place in active recovery.


Treat Your Pain Properly

Your doctor will give you a prescription pain medication (and most likely a muscle relaxer) for use post surgery. Take your pain medication as needed, keeping in mind that it is better to treat your pain consistently than it is to allow your medication to run out before you medicate. Also, avoid over the counter pain medications until your doctor advises you as to what to you, and when.


Wear a Supportive Bra

As your breasts will be healing, it is important that they have ample support to keep them in place. Wear a tight-fitting sports bra (avoid underwire for the first several months afterward), surgical bra, or other specialty bra as recommended by your doctor. Wear a bra 24/7 for the length of time specified by your doctor.


Avoid Physical Activity

Cardio is a no-no for the first two to four weeks, and upper body strength training is absolutely forbidden for the first four to six weeks (and, in many cases, considerably longer). Your doctor will give you explicit instructions, specific to your own situation. Follow them to a T.

Recovering from breast surgery is a process – and one to be taken very seriously. Follow these guidelines, and when in doubt, ask your doctor.

Image credit: nyul / 123RF Stock Photo

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