how long does it take to recover from a mastectomy

hi everyone, i had a mastectomy 5 weeks ago this thursday coming, i have had a lot of nerve pain, at least thats what i think it is!!!it feels like burning, and a tight feeling i have started ampytriptalin i think that is how you spell it i dont like to speak too soon but it seems to be improving, has anyone else experienced this and if so how long does it last for, look forward to hearing from anyone who could give me some advice


I had mine on 29th & still have tighness & some pain but I did have issues with my wound swelling & needing draining etc - I still have dressings as it decided to burst - I take tramadol for the pain but am starting to ease off & am on 3 doses of paracetamol & codiene. You don’t say if you had node clearance too??? - anyway I think this can be fairly normal & often the pain gets worse before it gets better as you say the nerves re join & start sending signals again so causes pain & as the scar heals it can get tight. Any concerns I would call your BCN??

HI, I have had 2, one in 2003 and the other in April 2010. I really think it is two months before all settles down, so don’t worry, things will get better. I had dreadful nerve pain on the skin, where it was very uncomfortable, especially where my bra seemed to rub, but it does get better. One day at a time is the best way to cope.
All the best to you
Maria x



I had my mastectomy on the 26.10.10 with sentinol node removal. Still experience tightness and sometimes sharp pains in the area, with some swelling on ribs.My case was a little complex as I had bi-lateral cancer (in both breats). So I had mastectomy on right and WLE on left with SNB on both sides.

My BCN reassured me that my symptoms were normal and it takes a couple of months to heal. As it was my right side I found it very difficult to brush my hair and dress/undress myself. I was given an exercise leaflet by my BCN which I found quite helpful. Doing the excercises regularly really helped to ease the stiffness. Avoid lifting heavy things e.g shopping bags.

Hope you feel better soon.

Take care. xxx

thank you everyone for the advice and re assurance it is good to learn it is normal for me to be experiencing the things i am, it does seem to ease off but then comes back, the nerves must be messed up i suppose, anyway thanks once again for the posts very helpful…

Hiya, I had mx just over three weeks ago, and though the wound itself has been totally pain free, my arm burns and tingles and it drives me up the wall… looking forward to that settling down, but do know it could take months rather than weeks to get to whatever stage is ‘normal’ for me, post-op. I was amazed initially that I was signed off for six weeks… but now very glad I was.

Sophie x

I had a double mastectomy three weeks ago and was fine pain wise for the first week. The nerve pain has been with me across the front of my chest and inner arms the last week and a half and is quite debilitating. Interested to know if you ladies above have had relief from it yet.

My arm is still not ‘right’, but I don’t notice it anymore, so it’s either got much, much better, or I’ve got used to it after all… think it has actually got better! It still tingles and feels odd when I touch it, and occasionally when I lean on something I have to move, because it’s uncomfortable, but it doesn’t drive me spare all the time like it initially did - it’s quite liveable with now!

Armpit still numb - can’t feel when I spray deodorant under it, and parts of inner arm also totally numb, very odd when showering and using a shower scrunchie!!

So… yes, def. improvements. Hang in there!

Sophie xx

Thanks Sophie. That sounds quite promising.


Hi there
just walking through the forums before I settle down in front of the TV for the night. You will recover from your mastectomy - different people take different times. I remember being very impatient to start my chemo after surgery but my oncologist was right to make me wait 6 weeks. I had my op in February 2005 and went back to teaching in the September with no problem reaching the top of the whiteboard, and certainly no pain. there are parts of my armpit that are still numb today but I was warned about that before the op - and I guess that depends how invasive your surgery has been.
Hope this is helpful

Hi i had mine single breast mastectomy 3weeks ago feel great arm slightly stiff …excercises help…i get like littlexelectric shocks in breast area which i assume is nerve endings but nothing i cant cope with …still have swelling and feel uncomftable with a bra but all goin well …i do feel it depends on each person …best look to all

Hi it took me about 9 weeks to recover from my mastectomy on my right breast with dermal lattice reconstruction ( Also had full node clearance ) very pleased with results although after having radiotherapy it has unsettled the breast and made it feel more solid. Going back to surgeon at end of October. So hoping it will improve. 


Hello im new to the form. I had a double mastectomy 1/5. I have a few questions
How long does it take fir all the drains to cone out?
Does that heavy feeling every get off your chest?

I had a bilateral mastectomy March 9.  I was doing very well and then developed an infection and thought I was going to lose one of the implants.  I did not have to have chemo or radiation so they were able to put implants in right away.   5 days in the hospital and heavy antibiotics, and now 10 more days or antibiotics.  It’s a wait and see game now.  Over the last week I have developed a horrible pain on the left side. This was not the cancerous breast. The pain is excruciating and I have cried many nights over this pain.  Hoping it’s just part of the healing process as the dr says.  Has anyone else experienced this?  

I have done my double incision mastectomy in the last month and the recovery period is most likely related to the depth of the surgery. I started shower after 8 days and my next appointment is on 12th of this month. Recovery process would be easy on the mind and body if we adhere to the surgeon’s guidance.Here’s a blog which explains about the recovery period after a mastectomy : . Hope it helps! 

My surgery (left removed and replaced with muscle from my back and fast from my sides. Right breast lift, etc. This was done 12 days ago.

I’ve had 7 or 8 surgeries in my life but I’ve never had so much pain as I’m living in now with the breast surgeries. I cry for hours every day. It’s comforting to know I’m not unique but every minute in pain makes the weeks it’s going to take to recover seems way too far away. I keep praying for God to help me.

it’s been 3 weeks and I was told by my surgeon to massage the area of the incisionsame and that seems to help…I know every surgergy is different, I am wondering the range of time before I don’t feel like I am out of significant pain

I have had a double mastectomy and anc in one arm last week. I got out of hospital without drains but still.have steri strips. I am frightened to remove them in case of pain or infection or opening the wound but the elastic bra band is rubbing, what advice does anyone have?

I had my surgery April 13 and they ran into complications that extended my surgery from 4 to lil over 6 hrs. I spent wk and half in the hospital and was discharged with 4 drain bags that drains as much as when I was admitted. I recently visited ER fr major discoloration on the right side. Fortunately not an infection but alot of bruising. Ice packs bring some comfort but I still need help in and out of bed, restroom and I would love to take a shower. Hopefully this will get better and I can be more independent.


I had a 6 centimeter tumor and 12 lymph nodes removed. Send home with drains. It didn’t take long to recover as long as I did the walk the wall exercises. My armpits are still a bit numb. I don’t think I’ll ever regain total feeling. Who cares? I’m alive! Keep exercising and also keep your arm as much as you can up with your armpit exposed. That helps eliminate lymphedema, which I get every now and then if I wear jewelry on the same side as my operation. Good luck! You will feel better.