A mastectomy is a surgically-invasive medical procedure in which a substantial amount of breast tissue is removed. Additionally, the lymph nodes under the arm may also be taken out and some patients opt to have a breast reconstruction surgery with the mastectomy. For these reasons, patients should not expect recovery from a mastectomy procedure to be a simple process. In fact, mastectomy recovery may take approximately three to six weeks. Some patients experience symptoms such as slight swelling for up to six months after the procedure is performed.
Compression bandages and drains are usually part of the mastectomy recovery process. Compression bandages are routinely applied to mastectomy patients once the procedure is completed. The patient wears these bandages for one to two weeks before switching to compression garments which serve a similar purpose. Additionally, many mastectomy patients have drains inserted to facilitate the removal of fluids around the surgery site. This helps to prevent complications such as swelling, bleeding and bruising. These drains will be left in until the amount of fluid they are accumulating is minimal. Patients will likely only have to use the drains for one to two weeks after the surgery is completed.
Patients recovering from a mastectomy procedure will likely be able to return to work after approximately one week assuming the work is not physical in nature. The patient may have limitations on physical activities for approximately the first six weeks after the surgery. After this point most patients are fully recovered, although some patients may experience minor swelling that persists for as long as six months.
During mastectomy recovery, patients might undergo psychological treatments. It's likely if the patient is having a difficult time dealing with the loss of the breast. This is common as many women find a mastectomy to be traumatic. This is often true for women who have not had a breast reconstruction surgery.