Question re approximate physical recovery time from a mastectomy

Hi, I’m due to have a mastectomy at the beginning of September, can anyone give me an idea of the approximate recovery time from the operation? And for a double mastectomy? 

I realise I can look these things up on the internet, but I don’t want to end up on a super technical and explicit site, I’m not feeling very strong at the moment. 



Hi FireCracker


I’m sorry you too have joined this reluctant but inspiring group. Of course you don’t feel very strong right now but you’ll be amazed what sources of strength you’ll discover in yourself. My advice is avoid Dr Google from start to finish. What you want or need to know you can get from your oncology team and trusted sites like this one and Macmillan - but even then it can be scary. What use are scientific information and data when you’re faced with these choices? You need all your emotional strength to back up your physical strength now, without frightening yourself with facts you may be in no state to absorb and which may well be irrelevant to your particular case. I virtually shut my mind down (denial?) and got on with it but my husband got incredibly anxious because he understood the data from a statistician’s perspective - not healthy.


I’m afraid the answer to your question is the proverbial piece of string. We’re all different, we all react differently to general anaesthetic, wound healing, pain, let alone the trauma of losing a breast (or two) and facing a disease we’re geared to regard with terror. From my experience (no reconstruction): in the first week, you’ll probably be wearing a drain. Forget using your arm - hopeless. Healing is well on its way by the end of week 2 when the dressing is removed but the surgical bruising and muscle pain will depend on the type and location of surgery. You have no idea how much you use your chest muscles till they are ‘injured’ so everyday movements (sitting up, lying back) and activities can be shockingly painful. There can also be nerve damage you have to adapt to and, if your lymph system is involved in the surgery, that brings different issues. I think it was about 6 weeks before I felt I could drive. By then, the psychological toll is adding up as you’ve got more results and future treatment plans adjusted accordingly … and the wait for the next stage of treatment…


I’m sorry I can’t be more specific or encouraging. It’s not great, at times it’s sh**, but we’ve all been through it and come out the other side smiling. It’s 10 months since my mastectomy (and axillary clearance). It’s still painful at times and I have various exercises from the physiotherapist to avoid potential problems like lymphodoema and seroma. The whole rollercoaster feels endless but I’m assured by others more experienced that you adapt to it. I hope your surgery goes well. Meantime, no googling! The breast care nurses here are excellent at answering questions and addressing fears. I recommend that as your source. 


Take good care of yourself,