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Post-Mastectomy Care

Talk with your doctor about any post-mastectomy questions that you might have.

Once you've had a mastectomy, it is very important to take good care of yourself to ensure proper healing. From being mindful to keep your dressing clean to how and when to apply an ice pack, you'll have a lot to remember. Here are some tips on proper post-mastectomy care:

Managing your pain
According to the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, often, doctors will prescribe a pain killer, like Vicodin​, to help alleviate any discomfor you are experiencing after the surgery. Follow the instructions from your physician as to when to administer this drug. You may want to take it with food to prevent nausea. If you are not prescribed a pain killer, ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help. Taking medicine when the pain starts will be your best bet at not allowing it to reach peak strength. Some narcotics can cause constipation, so eat high fiber foods and be sure to keep hydrated. Apply an ice pack to any swelling for 10 minutes at a time. This is very helpful when placed on your armpit after a lymph node dissection.

Physical activity
Most doctors will recommend that you not do any strenuous activity, rigorous exercise or lifting until your stitches and drain have been removed, according to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. This means no driving, lifting weights, picking up children or grocery bags. If you have a drain or a lymph node dissection, it is especially important to limit your movement until after your first post-operation appointment. At that time, your doctor will assess your healing and instruct you on what you should and should not do.

Incision care
Keep the dressing that is covering your incision clean and be sure that it is not starting to come off. Do not pick at it or peel it back because that may expose your body to harmful bacteria outside of the dressing, and you may interrupt your healing. Follow your doctor's instructions when it comes to bathing. Have a caregiver on hand to help you with putting on and taking of your shirt, and resist making movements that will stress the dressing covering your incisions.

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