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Bilateral Mastectomy with immediate reconstruction Recovery time

Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 2009

I am new to this discussion board and posted this on another discussion group and I think I should have stareed a new topic.

I am 63 and having a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction on Oct. 5. I know the surgery is a full day and recovery will be long.

My cancer is lobular in two places on the left breast and ductal in the rt. breast.

What I would like to have a feel for is the recovery time and progression I live alone and am very independent, so I 'd like to know how long it takes before I will be able to reach for things like in my cabinets, feed my pets and change their litter box and drive. I plan to do all my exercises as given to me by my plastic surgeon.

Does someone have experience to let me know what to expect.



MyTurnNow's picture
Posts: 2690
Joined: Aug 2009

I just wanted to welcome you to this amazing site. I don't have experience with your situation but I'm sure you'll be hearing from someone who does shortly. Just ask away and your questions will be answered.

Christmas Girl's picture
Christmas Girl
Posts: 3691
Joined: Apr 2009

I can't actually offer any useful advice for what you're facing - my own BC situation was quite different.

Just want to welcome you to the group. We're all here to support and encourage each other. I'm sure someone with similar experience will chime in, eventually.

Best wishes to you for successful surgery with the best possible outcome, without complications, and speedy recovery.

jk1952's picture
Posts: 613
Joined: May 2009

Danna, could you tell us what type of reconstruction you're having? Is it the regular reconstruction where you'll eventually have an implant, the TRAM flap (tummy tissue tunneled up inside ribs), or DIEP or free flap (tummy tissue disconnetced and blood supply reconnected under arms)? Or another type? The recovery is quite different with the different types and we have women on the boards who have had each of them. I'm sure they will be glad to tell you about their experiences.


New Flower
Posts: 4299
Joined: Aug 2009

two major element for recovery very important: type of reconstruction and lymph node removal.
Tram Flap reconstruction typical recovery 8 weeks restriction of weight lifting. Driving is limited after mastectomy probably for 5 weeks, if lymph nodes are removed and range of motion is limited I was told by my surgeon avoid highway driving for at least for 12 week. Everybody is different, but you will have drains for about 7 to 10 days. You will need some help during first 2 weeks after your surgery.
Even you are very brave I would encourage you to reach out and have somebody helping you.
I myself had radical mastectomy with immediate DIEP/Tram Flap reconstruction. My recovery was not easy and I am 47.
Good luck and I will be happy to answer any additional questions.

Posts: 58
Joined: May 2009

Danna, I had bilateral and immediate reconstruction. I had DCIS in both breasts so there was no need for radiation or chemo. My reconstruction was implants.

With that being said, I was told that I would stay in the hospital overnight (it was actually 2 nights). When I got home, the pain medication helped immensely! I really had no pain, and felt that I could do anything, but I was told not to.

I could not reach for things as you have tubes put in. No reaching until the drain tubes are taken out. You also should not be lifting anything; it wasn't until physical therapy that I was finally able to start lifting 1lb weights....

You really can't push yourself, no matter how independent you are. You need to heal.

Best of luck to you!


ruthielaine's picture
Posts: 59
Joined: Sep 2009

If you can try to have a relative, friend, neighbor anybody stop over a couple times per day. Even if its just to scoop the cat box! My girlfriend stopped by yesterday and yep she scooped the poop for me. I had my bi-lateral this past Monday, today is Thursday and I went out to breakfast today!! I drive a short distance maybe a mile. but you have to take care not to drive if you're on narcotics. I went for implants which is a much shorter recovery time. Before your surgery, try to move all the important stuff in your bathroom and kitchen down to a shoulder level height. The hardest part is reaching with the arm you had lymph nodes removed from and bending down to the floor can be tough. So if you have to, get the scoopable litter, move the cat box to a counter (the cats will adapt) Don't do your exercises until the Doc says ok. Good luck and lots of love to you.

sherik's picture
Posts: 26
Joined: Sep 2009

Hi Dana
I had a single mastectomy last Thursday with immediate placement of a tissue expander and three @&&^*@!& drains. I stopped the painkillers Tuesday night and have been managing with Tylenol. I definitely still have some pain - I think mainly from the drains though. I'm 42 and really active and fit and I was definitly glad to have my husband present and stay home from work for a few days to help me out. I know how hard it is to ask for help, but if there is anyone you can call upon to come stay with you or stop in you may find it helpful. I felt like a turtle stuck on its back for the first few days and moving around was hard and painful. I'm up and about now, taking walks, making my own food etc. I haven't driven yet even though I'm off meds. I'm waiting for the drains to come out on Monday. Most of the driving here is on the highway so I've been playing it safe.
Wishing you the best with your surgery!

Akiss4me's picture
Posts: 2192
Joined: May 2009

Just wanted to say welcome. I can't offer any advice for your type of surgery, but I hope your recovery is quick and you are able to line up help at least temporarily. Pammy

marilyndbk's picture
Posts: 238
Joined: Sep 2009

Good luck on your surgery tomorrow.
I am 57 and had bilateral mastectomies with Latissimus flap reconstruction and insertion of expanders almost 4 wks ago.
I tried to go into surgery as healthy and strong as possible. Recovery is going slow. I was told not to lift anything heavier than newspaper for at least one week. Before surgery I told myself that after the first few days, I would be ok by myself. I was able to take care of myself but not able to do much else. Reaching and bending over are still difficult. You will need at least minimal help at first. My family had a notebook and wrote down everything. Try not to rush exercises. Our bodies need time to heal. Take care and let us know how you are doing. Marilyn

Posts: 6
Joined: Oct 2009

Dear Danna,

Ten years ago I was 52 yrs old and thought that I was physically fit except for the cancer.

I had the bilateral mastectomies with immediate tram flap reconstruction then. Now I wonder how I made it through. I don't know what kind of reconstruction you are having, but I recommend having someone (even if you have to hire someone) help you out. Beware of Kitty cats. I have 5 and I know they like to jump in my lap. Have a pillow handy to cover your surgery sites just in case a cat jumps in your lap.

Good luck on your surgery tomorrow. I hope everything goes well for you and we see you back on this site shortly.

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