Mastectomy - what to take into hospital

Could anyone advise me,  I’m scheduled for left sided mastectomy and reconstruction and right sided reduction on the 8th October.  I’ve no idea what to take in and no idea how long I will be in for. 


I’ve had months to come to terms with this and I’ve just wanted to get this cancer out of me but now its finally here I’m so scared and anxious.  Therefore any feedback on what the operation was like and how you felt afterwards (good or bad) would be helpful.  I’m having my operation in Birmingham.

Look forward to hearing from you



Hi San

While you are waiting for other members to come along and offer some support, I thought our publication “Your operation and recovery” might be helpful.  Here’s the link:

As well as the support you will find on here you could also talk things over with one of our helpliners.  They can offer practical information and emotional support.  Opening times are 9-5 on weekdays and 10-2 on Saturdays.  The number is 0808 800 6000

Very best wishes


BCC Moderator

Hi San,


I had mx (no recon) December 2012. Apart from  the drain due to lymph node removal, I had no pain at all. At my hospital, surgery was performed as a day patient. I stayed overnight as my op was late afternoon.  I think this is true of most hospitals.  I felt fine afterwards, 10 minutes after I’d come back onto the ward, I had  visitors and was sat up laughing and joking with them.


I took into hospital (one night stay)

  • 1 pair of pj’s with button down front. A nighty which buttons all the way down will do.
  • Dressing gown
  • Slippers
  • comb, toothbrush and toothpaste (no deoderant as I couldn’t use it after surgery)
  • small change for newspapers/phone 
  • Button down top to go home in
  • soft cotton bra (non-underwired) 

They gave me a  ‘softee’ to put on my mx side as I had no recon,  but the bra dug in where the drain came out, so took it off as soon as I was home. Many patients like those soft bras with no fasteners that you can either pull over your head, or step into and pull up, whichever is easier.


Wishing you all the best for 8th October. Also wish you luck for whatever treatment you need afterwards.


poemsgalore xx



Hi San, I had mastectomy and LD reconstruction, you didn’t say what type you were having? I stayed in hospital 4 nights and would agree with Poemsgalores list. I took 2 lots of pjs with a baggy t shirt top ,short sleeves because you will constantly be giving blood samples or blood pressure cuffs need putting on. I also had a nighty with buttons right down the front, Primark and Tescos do them, just make sure they are loose enough. With drains in though pyjamas are best once you start moving around which is fairly soon. Slippers, dressing gown, juice, something very easy to read or word puzzles. I found my concentration lacking for a couple of days. Face cloths and soap, I couldn’t have a shower because of dressings and drains and the nurses washed my back for me, apparently was covered with something pink from theatre so needed to get it off. You won’t need towels, they will give you those. Loose change, dry shampoo, hairbrush, moisturiser. Stretch crop top bras are good because they are easy to get on and don’t interfere with the drains. Something very comfy to come home in , you won’t be able to put your arm high to get clothes on. A small cushion for the car to pad the seatbelt. I also took my phone and played mindless games on it. And take a sense of humour and some patience, it can be so boring, you will sleep a lot. As to how I felt afterwards, surprisingly good. Plenty of pain relief, difficult to move myself around the bed because I couldn’t lean on my affected arm. I did have an issue in that my BP dropped and I was being constantly monitored for that and on a drip but after 24hrs was fine. And once you get home you will feel so much better. You just have to remember to take it very easy at first and do nothing strenuous. Good luck with your op. Helen xx

Thank you poemsgalore and Helen for replying

Hi San,


I’m taking in a cute little bag to store all of my essentials in, that way everything will be easy to reach.

Im taking

  • dry shampoo
  • palmers cocoa butter
  • my phone to text
  • mp3 to listen to music (headphones!)
  • wet wipes to freshen up with
  • gentle deodarant
  • toiletries

Good luck with everything x

Hi San, not long to wait now love - the waiting and anxiety is such a tough part of it - and the op will soon be over. I had a double mastectomy on Tuesday and the thing I am so glad I took in (for a 2 night stay) was my headphones. The ward was busy constantly with various people having blood pressure taken / being checked on / going to the toilet so it is diffcult to sleep for any length of time. I had a set of headphones stuck in the telly so I could tune into trash tv programs but also a set in my iphone where I had downloaded a ‘rainfall and thunderstorms’ cd, also a sleep meditation app, and an audio book reading of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers! (loved those books as a kid - am now 45). It blocked out hospital noises and let me listen / doze very easily and peacefully in my post anaesthetic / painkiller induced state. Also I would take pyjama bottoms /sleepy shorts as I stayed in my operation gown (which opens down the back) the whole time and when I went to the toilet everybody could see my pants! This concerned the nurses so they had to tie me up every time or shadow me with a robe.

Good luck on Tuesday and my very best wishes for a speedy recovery xx

Hi (again) San

You wanted to know how it feels after the op so here goes… It’s day 5 after my operation and I am up with the lark, a bit sore where the tissue expander buttons are (I had implant reconstruction) but apart from that in no pain at all. Days 1 and 2 were stiff and achy but not ‘painful’. Day 3 was noticeably easier, Day 4 better again and I mooched (cautiously) around Asda with a friend, and today I am looking forward to a roast dinner and the Sunday papers. It’s actually a bit annoying that it looks like a good drying day and that I am not allowed to use my arms for doing the washing!

I was also very scared and anxious beforehand and cried all the way to hospital including whilst on the bed waiting for the anaesthetist - my consultant assured me most ladies are weepy and it was entirely normal.  The difference in my mood and attitude is so different now that this part of the process is over.

Good luck - stay in touch if I can help in any way at all xx




My best tip is to have a great dressing gown. I wore my beautiful one inside out to put 3 drains into now inside pockets whilst carrying catheter.

Dressing gown with large pockets My new front opening pyjamas were impractical because of the drains and catheter didn’t fit…

Front opening nightie ( nurses gave me one and cut it down at the front( hence need for safety pin)


*deodorant *dry shampoo

* hair brush*Safety pins

*Ear plugs eye mask

*Glasses *Hand wipes/ face wipes *Light perfume/body spray *Mints/breath freshener Bottled water if you don’t want to drink hospital tap water Books/kindle *Crossword/puzzle book & pens

Diary for future appointments

Mobile phone and charger

I put all the above into a large basket with handles .

In holdall

Toileteries soap flannel hold you in knickers comfy outfit to go home elasticated skirt or trousers zipped top or buttons.

Thank you card/ biscuits or chocolates prepared for the nurses and brought in for when you go home.