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How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?


Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

I had MX and ANC in August. Very little pain, and little problems at the time, although rads caused some skin issues. I am just about now back to full range of movement and I have been doing the exercises (including some advanced ones for the last couple of months) daily. The progress was slow but steady on the movement front. I do still have slight cording, but I ignore it and just stretch the arm as much as I can anyway 🙂

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

I had node surgery on 27 October , had burning right down arm. 6 weeks on it is almost gone

Had bilateral mx 2 weeks ago. Week 2 has been worse than week 1 . Have lemon sized hard lumps under each are, which is internal bruising and have grown boobs again which is fluid swishing about
2 weeks on and it's a slow recovery, much slower than I expected. No energy. Pain not too bad, but discomfort horrid. I can just about reach into kitchen cupboards now but little strength in arms
Think it will be a while before I am horse riding again

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

Yes the pain and discomfort are typical, altho some people bounce back very quickly. Remember we are all different. My arm had cording after and i couldn't walk any where without my arm throbbing for a couple of months.
a doctor friend if mine said remember inside take s longer to heal than outside, its not normally handled in that way! My arm movement was not back for 4 months and i am still working on strength one year on.

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

Hi Boud and welcome to the BCC forums

Along with the shared experiences and support here please feel free to call our helpliners to talk through any concerns or queries on 0808 800 6000, lines are open 9-5 weekdays and 10-2 Saturdays

Here's a link to the BCC 'Recovering from breast surgery' information which may help at the moment:


Take care
Lucy BCC

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

Hi, I had my surgery (mastectomy with reconstruction and lymph node clearance) just over 3 weeks ago, I am still getting a lot of discomfort on my chest wall and a sunburn type feeling under my arm, my arm movements are increasing but not back to normal (given exercises but not doing as regularly as I should) also getting a cording feeling down my arm, just told to take Paracetamol and Ibuprofen, some days I need more than others, it tends to vary according to what I've been doing, I'm hoping it will get better with time!!!

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

That was how I was, mine was like a slug not an apple - let the hospital know.  You may need to have it scanned with ultra sound.  I did. I also took my temperature at home 3x a day in order to see if i had a temperature - as that was a sure sign of infection.  Remember a couple of weeks ago they were nearly dislocating your shoulder to get out lymph glands.


I am now 14 weeks down the line and still have a slug - it has been confirmed as a reactive lymph gland.  It gives me jip when I do too much or something is too heavy.  Apparently it is going down, they hope it will go down completely



Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

Hey Everyone my arm pit area is bout size of an apple now and more uncomfortable than a week after surgery !! Been nearly 2weeks now and its only just starting to give me jip!! Is that normal concidering i felt ok untill now?

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

I had my mx on Feb 4, Combined with reconstruction using a proteses and muscle and tissue from my back. Because I am thin quite a lot of the suture was done in my muscle so the first two days were rather painful. Today I am already feeling much better and I am looking forward to Monday when the drains will come out. I still do not have my plan as my onc wishes to wait for the results of the biopsy but I am very happy that my nodes were clear and so were the margins of the tumors. Let's see how it will go once the results are back.

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

Hi Debs
Glad all seemed to go well and you are not too sore. Look after yourself xxx

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

Hi Debs,

How amazing are you.  Can't believe you're up and posting so quickly.  Now that's a massive step in the right direction.  Just take it easy and don't go running a marathon this weekend. Xx

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

Thank you everyone for your replys...I went down to theatre at 12.30am 27th jan...i had the injection that goes to left of your spine for pain relief before going under to avoid being groggy with morphine(wanted quicker recovery). I was under by 12.45am but when i next opened my eyes and checked time it was 5pm!!! I asked why it was so late and apparently id had a bleed just as they was about to wake me up..My surgeon told me he had to re open me quickly to sort it and was very pleased it happenend just before he was going to finish as would had been worse.Im glad too lol. I had more than 2 nodes removed so i know it has spread into them as he took more but will find out how bad etc 12th feb. I am in no pain and using no pain relief at all,the injection lasted 48hrs but no probs after it wore off. I was little stiff first day but was discharged next day at midday even had my drain removed before i left. So far no probs,am active and mobile and only thing i cant do is pick up my 2yr old...Of course im being careful not to over do it but even cooked a good ol dinner for family today.../Am very pleased recovery not bad at all and i have 3 incision sights too. I thought i wouldnt look at my missing breast for weeks but had a peep same day and it looks way better than i had imagined...Just gotta wait for that horrible result day now !!!! xx

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

HI Debs,

Wishing you all the best. Xx

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

Hi Debs
I had a mastectomy on 16th January. I was really scared but it wasn't as bad as I thought. When I woke in recovery my shoulder was painful as they said that was the position they had me in during the op. I had no pain in my wound. Following the op I was linked to morphene so I could give this myself. I only used it 5 times and after that went onto diclophenic and paracetamol for a couple of days then just paracetamol for another day. I am a complete wimp and if I could manage the pain anybody could! I was in hospital 3 nights. I was still tired when I came home and wished I'd taken the option for another night. I had in 2 drains. One was removed 2 days later, the other on the 3rd day. The first was uncomfortable to remove the second I didn't even feel. I showered the day after and managed myself but couldn't lift my arm high. I dressed myself 2 days after the op. I had a couple of days at home where I didn't do much but I am now fully mobile, have been shopping and can lift my 2 year old. I am tender under my arm but can sleep on that side and have a lot of mobility back. I had no lymph nodes removed. I hope you don't dread the op too much and I wish you all the very very best for a speedy recovery x

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?



Had my mastectomy on the 14th Jan, did not go down to theatre til 5 pm so was kept in overnight, and discharged by 11 am. the following day.  Felt very sleepy for a couple of days and  did not have any pain, as I was taking the prescribed pain killers.  Stoped the pain killers by the 17th and have not taken any since.

I did not have a drain fitted, but have had a large seroma build up in my chest area, this was drained on the 22nd.  Unfortunately this has filled again, so I may be asking for it to be aspirated again. 



Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

Hope the op has gone well - i had mine in October too.


Op fine - in hospital 2 nights 

Drain in for 5 days - came out fine and with no pain,

Dressing off after 10 - then i was allowed to massage the scar and cream cream onto my breast area


 and since then i have struggled with discomfort in my arms, hands and chest areas.  BUT I have good days and bad days.  AND knowing that i have the good days means that I will have more!  But progress has been  slower than  i expected afterwards.

so hang on in there and i hopw the op went well

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

Hi Debs,


I had my mastectomy in 2009 so, a while ago.  I went down for my op at 4.30pm and was home

again by 11.30am next day.


I didn't have any pain at all and was 'made' to take paracetamol to keep the nurse happy.


I was rather sick when I came round, but was given this amazing medicine that completely took it away in about 10 seconds.


The drain is manageable and I think things have moved on a bit as my drain had a rigid plastic bottle which I carried in a bag over my shoulder.  I had it taken out in hospital a week later.


I could raise my arms easily and made sure that I did the exercises and had full range of function quite quickly (although I was a little reluctant at first in case I hurt myself, but that never happened).


The only thing that caused me discomfort was when the nerves were repairing themselves under my arm.  My skin was super sensitive to the point of skin on skin being uncomfortable, but this only lasted about a week.


All the best




Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

Hi Foxy27


Welcome to the Breast Cancer Care discussion forums, you've come to the right place for some good, honest support from the many informed users of this site.

While you are waiting for replies, I have put for you below links to some of BCC's publications you might find helpful. Also our helpline team are just a free phone call away, 0808 800 6000 lines open Mon-Fri 9-5 and Sat 10-2






Take care,

Jo, Moderator

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

I had a mastectomy on Wednesday 22nd - after 2 lumpectomies failed to clear DCIS in the margins - I also have v small breasts so needed a mastectomy even though lump was about 9mm.

Found the lumpectomies v straightforward  the more difficult being therSNLB - quite restrictive and sore under arm at first. After the mastectomy I felt much more light headed/groggy and didn't feel like eating whereas had eaten the NHS out of sandwiches and biscuits after the other ops. I still managed to get out the same day though - in the nick of time as the day case ward was closing!

I felt really tired and had a drain in which freaked me out a bit at night as I was scared I'd pull it out, but all was fine - I just kept it by me on the bedside table - 17 year old son was grossed out by it tho'!

The ward hadn't marked the fluid level so the district nurse on Friday wouldn't take it out - the one yesterday did though which was a great relief - neither it, nor the wound were painful - just felt a bit of presuure at times if I moved too quickly. I managed to get around with it by keeping it in a handbag over my shoulder!

Now it's out I have slept a lot more soundly and am feeling better. I left hospital in a vest top - no bra and have stuck to that really - a strechy vest top is ideal and you can get it over your head - you won't want to lift your arm too high at first but it is doable.

I have washed by having a quick shower/hairwash over the bath with a shower attachement - I haven't had water anywhere near the site, but was discharged with a kind of cling film cover so washing/light showering was possible - I just wanted to make sure it was all healing before risking it.

Good luck for tomorrow. If you want to know anything else please let me know.

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?


Have a relaxing weekend.  Stay positive.  It will all work out.  Will be thinking of you. Jackie  Xx

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

Aw Thankyou songbird...thankfully my hospital is just at the end of my road so quick journey in the car. Im thinking i might cry too, your loosing part of you after all .I am having the dye also .Hope to get out quick. Going in 7.45am mon.Starting to feel a bit nervous today but not of the operation its self,nervous of my feelings coming out as ive been quite strong so far. I know you ladies get exactly what im saying although im not explaining my self well,ha ha. Thanks for answers everyone x

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

Hi Debs, I was handling everything well until they came to take me down to surgery then I cried like a little girl all the way down to the theatre! I think they must be used to it, because everyone was very kind. I was in hospital overnight after the mastectomy.


Luckily no drains, and like Poemsgalore I had sentinel node biopsy (blue dye injected into tumor site to see whether the lymph node it drains to has any cancer cells too). The blue stain patch on my skin has only just faded after five months. I hurt when I came round from the anaesthetic and I was given morphine. I also felt very cold, but I think this was my nerves. I had paracetamol during the night, but no more pain.


I went for a very short gentle walk with my dog and husband in the afternoon I returned home, and then just rested. I think I slept a lot on and off. I wasn't in any pain at all, still numb. I think the surgeon injects the site with a long lasting anaesthetic, but I'm not sure. Anyway, I did not need to take any painkillers at all.


The initial recovery period is quite taken up with breast care nurses and surgeon appointments, and anything else that may be needed.


Over the days and weeks I gradually did more. I waited three weeks before driving. I was back at work around then too, but taking it easy. Did lots of gentle arm and shoulder excersises. I wore big loose shirts and had no problem dressing as long as I was very careful. I could raise my arms with no difficulty - in fact I woke up with both arms above my head one morning! I panicked lol but was fine.


Just a thought but you might want to have a pillow/cushion to put between you and the seatbelt on the drive home from hospital!

Good luck and all the best :)x x

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

Thankyou Ladies,im dreading leaving my 2yr old boy more than the op itself at the moment i think !!! 

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

I had my mastectomy in october, I was down at 9am so was able to come out tge same day....I had 3 lymph nodes removed also. I didnt have any pain whatsoever but found the drain 'uncomfortable' however I must of caught the drain while sleeping and had to have it taken out the following day.
The worst part for me was trying to sleep and the anesthectic....I felt very groggy for about 3 days. My arm was stiff and I couldn't move it much but each day got easier and the exercise's helped to ease the stiffness.
Its really not as bad as you think it will be and although its a little more awkward than normal getting dressed, I managed and didnt find it a problem.
Hope all goes well.

Re: How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

Hi Debs,


I had my mastectomy on December 12th 2012. I also had SNB, 3 nodes were removed. I didn't get my op until late afternoon, so had to stay overnight. I felt ok in the morning. No pain at all, just a little discomfort where the lymph nodes were removed. The most painful part for me was having a drain in. I had no dressing as everything was superglued in place. The drain was in for five days (I was shown how to empty it and re-inflate the balloon inside) and the district nurse came to remove it for me - that was a relief. The only reason I had pain is that I tend to sleep on that side most, and where the tube came out dug into my side. It left a fairly large sore patch after removal, but the DN left me a couple of extra dressings to use.


Raising my arm wasn't too much of an issue, I just felt a pulling sensation. I'm afraid I wasn't very good at doing my exercises afterwards, but after a few weeks I had normal movement anyway.


Good luck

poemsgalore xx

How Was your pain and recovery after mastectomy?

My pre op is 21st Jan and mastectomy 27th..Could i have your mastectomy stories please good or bad? Was you in and out same day,next day,2days etc? How was the pain? Was it hard to get dressed? Raise arms and for how long roughly? I know we are all different in recovery but at this stage i would just like to hear from all you who have been through it...Thank You x