top Tips for coping with breast reconstruction

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These suggestions are based on the experiences of ladies who have been through Breast Reconstruction and are additional to advice given by the surgeon and clinical teams looking after you.

Before you proceed with surgery.

  1. Only proceed with Breast reconstruction surgery if you want to, not because you feel it is expected or someone pushes you into it. Breast Reconstruction is major surgery.

  2. Ask questions – make sure you understand what your surgery entails. If you have questions that you are concerned you may forget in the clinic surroundings – write them down and ask your Surgeon or Breast Care Nurse.


Prior To Hospital Admission

  1. Remember - whatever clothes you come into hospital wearing you will probably leave in, so make sure they are comfortable and easy to put on.

  2. Moisturise your legs well prior to admission. Once on the ward you will be required to wear TED stockings to reduce your risk of a clot forming whilst you are a little less mobile than normal – these can make your skin very dry, moisturising well before hand can help.

  3. If surgery is on the side of your dominant arm especially in the case of reconstruction surgery involving muscle from your back – consider buying an electric toothbrush as it can make things a little easier.

  4. You will not be able to drive for a few weeks after surgery so consider setting up an internet shop – if you have access - ready for your discharge.

  5. Consider buying a V pillow – they are comfy and supportive.

  6. If they don’t make you feel too hot and sticky consider putting satin sheets on the bed ready for your return, they make it much easier to move when in bed.

  7. You will need to bring into hospital a supportive sports bra – ask your Surgeon or Breast Care Nurse for advice on this.

  8. Remove any Nail Varnish.

What to bring into hospital with you.

(These are only suggestions)

  1. Nightdress or Pyjamas – the Nurses and Surgeons will need easy access to your breast and other surgery sites so wear garments that open down the front. As you will have drains after surgery, avoid full length items – they get in the way!

  2. Slippers.

  3. Dressing Gown – lightweight – it is very warm on the ward.

  4. Toiletries – Soap, Flannel, Towel, Shampoo, Deodorant, Hairbrush, Tissues, Toothbrush and Toothpaste, you may like to include some makeup to wear once you feel a little better. Your lips can also become very dry following surgery so lip balm is also a good idea.

  5. Bottle of fruit Juice or Squash – you will need to drink plenty of water and adding this will make it tastier.

  6. Pen/Paper and reading materials.

  7. Nail file – nails always break when you don’t have one!

  8. Telephone Numbers – the ward has a “Patientline” facility which includes a phone, you will need some cash initially to set this up. Machines are located around the hospital.

  9. Any Medication you regularly take.

When You Go Home.

  1. Ask whoever collects you to bring some pillows to support you in the car, also a further pillow or soft cushion to place between the seatbelt and your breast, otherwise it can be a little uncomfortable.

  2. Once you return home be prepared to need lots of sleep and rest. Do nothing for the first week other than rest and continue with any gentle exercises advised by your breast care nurse or physiotherapist during your hospital stay.

  3. Drink lots of fluids and eat plenty of fruit, this will help prevent constipation – a hazard whilst you are less mobile and taking painkillers.

  4. LAUGH A LOT!! – this makes you feel better, reduces stress and boosts your immune system.

A bit of general advice.

You won’t ever forget your Breast Cancer or Reconstruction but there is life after it all. Your emotional and physical scars will heal and you’ll return to a life without surgeons, weird sleeping positions or checking your breasts constantly throughout the day.

Once your able – GO SHOPPING- and buy the prettiest bra you can find !!

This Page was created on Wednesday, 16th April, 2008.