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Recovery period for double mastectomy with reconstruction

KBushart
Posts: 7
Joined: Nov 2009

I am hoping someone can share their experience with mastectomy and reconstruction. I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction on November 11th. It's been 18 days and I'm still having problems with doing the basics: washing hair, getting dressed, walking any distance. It's difficult to empty the dishwasher, do laundry etc and I have not even driven the car yet. Swelling seems to have gotten worse since the drains came out last Monday, so yesterday the dr. gave me a steroid to help with the inflammation and swelling. So, ice packs, steroids, pain pills and advil. Am I just expecting too much from myself? I hate to even complain because I don't have to go through half of what others are going through with radiation and chemo. Guess I'm just worried that something may not be right. Any tips on using the discussion boards? Or just keep reading?

Thanks bunches!
Kim

mlmjt1
Posts: 540
Joined: Jul 2009

I had double mastectomy with reconstruction with expanders. My husband and I took the dog to the dog park and walked just a few days after surgery. I couldnt stand being down. I didnt do laundry but I could load and unload the dishwasher. My husband actually showered with me every day for 3 weeks until the drains were removed cuz I couldnt hold them and wash, but I could shampoo my hair. You need to try to maintain your range of motion as much as you can because the swelling will worsen if you dont maintain some activity.

Did you have a tram flap or expanders?? I think the recovery is more difficult with the tram flap. Also if you had lymphnodes removed that will impact how much swelling you may have.

Hang in there...ask your doctor about exercises you can do for your arms to maintain range of motion. Get dressed and have your family take you out for a walk 2 times per day

Hugs
Linda T

DianeBC's picture
DianeBC
Posts: 3888
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi Kim. I had a lumpectomy but wanted to wish you a speedy and easy recovery!

Diane

marilyndbk's picture
marilyndbk
Posts: 238
Joined: Sep 2009

It sounds like you are doing great. I am 2 1/2 months post op and am mostly back to normal. It does take time. I will be glad when expanders come out and reconstruction complete but am so grateful for skill and knowledge of my breast surgeon and plastic surgeon. And the fact that the cancer is gone. That is a good thing. Take good care of yourself. Marilyn

Mesa2009
Posts: 10
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi Kim

I also had a mastectomy on Oct. 14th with immediate reconstructive surgery (expanders)and believe it or not I too felt the same way. Friends and family kept me in perspective that I was so far out from my surgery and it would take time. I had my drains for about 3 weeks and I was also concerned about the swelling and the chest spasms. As my doc explained its my body gettting use to those expanders.

As you may have already heard many, many times ~ EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT! It is true as cliche as it may sound. As someone already has mentioned maintain are motions and try to avoid raising them too much above your head.

Good luck with your journey and don't apologize for inquiring. You are your own advocate! Listen to your body! :)

seof
Posts: 826
Joined: Jun 2007

I agree with the other ladies. 18 days is not very long...just over 2 weeks. You have had 2 body parts replaced. give yourself time to recover. you will get there. Would you expect someone who had a knee replacement to be walking without a limp in 2.5 weeks? Would you expect someone with surgery to a hand to be playing piano or tennis in 2.5 weeks? Follow the Drs. instructions and let someone else do those things that are difficult for now. Take it day by day. You will start to notice improvements bit by bit.

My own experience is atypical because I have had some unusual setbacks, so I won't discourage you with my story. Suffice it to say that I know it is frustrating when things do not seem to be going as well as you would like, but you have to trust the Drs. and have patience and let others help you when you need it.

Take care, seof

Calleen's picture
Calleen
Posts: 414
Joined: Jul 2009

was completely lazy for the first 4 weeks (July 29), and then took things slow. I went back to work after 7 weeks. It's now been 4 months and I still am adjusting to it all. I listen to my body and rest accodingly.

Miracle53
Posts: 6
Joined: Nov 2009

I am also new to this site. I had a mastecomy with reconstruction 10/9/09. I also have the expander and it is still uncomfortable but better. I can do more now by myself, take a shower, wash dishes, walk without feeling totally exhausted. My doctor said I can return to work on 12/9/09 so I hope everything goes well. I was wondering if the expander has to be removed? I don't remember the plastic surgeon saying that but so much info is given at one time its hard to remember. I can also stay up longer during the day. Unfortunately we can't rush progress and it takes time to heal. Will the breast ever feel soft again? I pray for everyone to have a speedy recovery . Thanks for letting me share.

marilyndbk's picture
marilyndbk
Posts: 238
Joined: Sep 2009

It is such a good feeling to be able to take care of ourselves again. The way I understand it is the plastic surgeon inserted my expanders and attempted to use tissue, blood supply, and muscle from my back after the breast surgeon was done with her thing the day of my mastectomies. I go in every 2 wks for filling. my office does 50 cc's at a time. When I get to the size I want, or my muscles can handle, the surgeon will go in and take the expanders out and replace them with breast implants approx 4-5 months after original surgery. The expanders are hard and uncomfortable and I feel tighter and more sore for a day or two after each filling. My breast surgeon, plastic surgeon and their office staff have been very good at answering my questions although it does seem that they only give you so much information and don't go into detail. I always have a few questions written down. Take good care of yourself. Marilyn

cvolk821's picture
cvolk821
Posts: 36
Joined: Nov 2009

Miracle53 - Yes, the expanders do come out, and they are replaced with your actual implants. This happens about four months after your plastic surgeon has completed the "fillings". Your implants will feel much more natural - or so I understand. The expander exchange is an out-patient surgery with minimal recovery time according to my plastic surgeon. I cannot vouch for any of this as I haven't even begun my fillings yet. I carried a book with me to every appointment and transcribed the conversation (reading it back to the dr before I left each appt) or I'd never have been able to keep all of the information straight!

Connie

KBushart
Posts: 7
Joined: Nov 2009

Thanks so much for everyone's input. As I was initially reading the discussion boards, I was thinking I was abnormal in not feeling better sooner. It is a very slow process and I am trying to be patient. Last night I went for a short walk, but exercises aren't working for me yet. I'll be checking back in with the Dr. on Thursday and thankful for feeling just a little better every day. Good luck to all of you on your journey, no matter what part of it you're on.
Hugs,
Kim

cvolk821's picture
cvolk821
Posts: 36
Joined: Nov 2009

Kim - I'm one day behind you in recovery from bi-lateral mastectomy with immediate reconstructin (expanders). I'm better and stronger every day but also find many things I cannot (and shouldn't) do yet. I got my head stuck in my sweatshirt at a restaurant and couldn't move my arms to free myself - my boyfriend yelled "Hang on Little Tomato" and had to rescue me in front of everyone! What a hoot! My hair looks like Mick Jaegger cuz I can't blow it dry or style it (or even rinse all of the conditioner out yet). I planned for the getting dressed part and went to a consignment shop and bought all of the soft oversized shirts which open in the front. My house is a mess, my dog is dirty, the leaves have piled up on the deck, and I'm lounging on the couch (with my flat hair and baggy clothes) eating Cheez-its right out of the box and watching Dr. Phil. Have I painted a pretty picture of myself?

You are expecting too much from yourself. You've had major surgery and need to take whatever time you need to get well. The clean dishes won't rot in the dishwasher and you probably shouldn't be bending over to reach the stray sox in the bottom of the washer anyway! Temporarily suspend your chores and your expectations!

Take care of you, Kim! Next week at this time we'll both feel altogether different.

Connie

jikaras
Posts: 58
Joined: May 2009

I also had the double mastecomy with immediate reconstruction (expanders). I had my drains in for about 3 1/2 weeks, as I just couldn't get the fluid to move out.

When they took the drains out, I still had excessive swelling. Finally, my plastic surgeon found the 'port' for the expander - put a needle in the hole and sucked out a big 'ole tube of fluid. Once that was removed, I started feeling better.

But yes, every person is different, and we all heal at different paces. I had my mast. in January, and implants in May - I'm STILL recovering. Like my plastic surgeon said, "this is 2 major surgeries you've had on your body. 6 months recovery for each is not too far out of the norm".

Good Luck

e_hope's picture
e_hope
Posts: 371
Joined: Sep 2009

it's totally normal what your experiencing.. I had a double mastectomy in Feb with expander reconstruction. It takes time.. and many factors play a role in your personal healing (your age, your health before surgery, and how your body responded to the surgery its self).. Your only 3 weeks post-op... you have to allow your body to heal. Don't be too hard on your self... it will all come together.. do your range of motion exercises and in time you will be back to your normal range of motion.

Your not complaining.. that's what everyone is here for to support each other no matter what's going on.

you can also expect as the expanders are being filled to have increase pain and lots of spasms.. you have a foreign thing in you and it takes time for your body to get use to it being there...

I expanders have been in since Feb 27.. and finally having them replaced Dec 17. My surgeon wouldn't exchange them till I was completely done with treatment

Good luck to you and remember... AND BE KIND TO YOURSELF.....

crselby's picture
crselby
Posts: 380
Joined: Oct 2009

ccd, try reading some of these comments in this older thread.

KBushart
Posts: 7
Joined: Nov 2009

Thanks again for the more realistic expectations! This week I am feeling alot better. It's not perfect, but definitely getting better.

jnl's picture
jnl
Posts: 3873
Joined: May 2009

Glad that you are feeling better!

Hugs, Leeza

DianeBC's picture
DianeBC
Posts: 3888
Joined: Jun 2009

So happy to know that you are better today! We are all rooting for you!

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