realistic time frame to getting back to 'normal' after mastectomy?

Hello all, havent had any surgery yet but been told I’m likely to need a mastectomy. I was told Id spend a few days in hospital then 4/5 weeks to maybe go back to work (desk job mainly and so far not looking like i’ll need rads or chemo). Is this a realistic timeframe? Im trying to sort work out as much as i can but i dont want to give them any false expectations. thanks x

Hi Karen

I was keen to get back to work so I was rather down when hospital was talking about signing me off for 4 weeks for mx.  BCC helpline cheered me up by telling me I might not need that long and luckily I found this was true.  For mx (with sentinel node biopsy) I had a week off and then worked at home the following week to avoid commute (GP gave me a fit to work at home certificate). Did not do anything too strenuous the following week either. This worked fine for me but everyone is different - and I seemed to heal quickly.  I had to have seromas drained a few times so had to pop back to the hospital for this - it is therefore helpful if work can be flexible. I did not have reconstruction - judging from other posts this would need longer recovery time. Best wishes - hope it goes well.


Hi Karen, I think your recovery time will depend largely on whether you have reconstruction or not. Mx without is a much reduced recovery time and with recobstruction the recovery time will depend on what type of recobstruction you opt for. From the discussions I had with my Plastic Surgeon, the quickest recovery time is offered by an implant only recon (like you, I was concerned about recovery time, for work and also as I am a keen runner and was terrified about being out of action for too long!!), however for lots of reasons that wasn’t the best option for me. I ended up with bilateral mx and LD flap recon, but six weeks on am looking at a phased return to work next week. And my boobs look great!!
Your best option is to have a chat with your breast care consultant & plastic surgeon who will be able to go through all of the options with you.

thanks for your replies x Im hoping to have a recon but until I see my surgeon I dont know what that will entail. Did they do everything at the same time for you Fizz? My left breast appears to be ok but for peace of mind Im now wondering if its an option to have both done and reconstructed at the same time so at least theyre starting from a flat playing field (so to speak!) and that they will look the same afterwards. The fact your boobs look great was great to read! gives me a lot of hope :slight_smile: xx

Thanks fizz. So glad you’ve had such a positive outcome xx

I am in quite physical job and was told the same, but advised to think 8 -12 weeks due to job. But my body had other idea and was off 6 months. This really upset my boss who thought i was skiving. But my bcc nurse was right behind me, and wanted me to go back knowing i wouldn’t fail. My gp was good too, and was not prepared to fit for work until i could cut fruit and veg, drive safely.
outside heals …we don’t know how long inside takes. I was left side mx and left handed

I had left MX and implant recon back in sept, was driving and doing yoga after 3 weeks fit for work from home on reduced hours as Chemo to follow. Hope goes well x

thank you…seems its quite an individual thing. saw my surgeon today and hopefully, all being well, I shall be having a mx with reconstruction using tissue from my stomach, and a reduction on the other side too. he seems to think that it can all be done at the same time. I have decided to tell work they’ll see me when they see me! xx

Hi , are you having single or bilateral mastectomy? Do you have any other health problems? Are you someone who usually bounces back from illness or someone whose body mostly needs a bit more recovery time? One rough and ready figure is 1 week per hour of anaesthetic. Do remember there is also emotional recovery. It may be worth opting for 6 weeks so you feel that you can recover in peace without the stress of worrying whether you will be back in time.
All the very best with your op.