Post-op Medications

Upon discharge there is so much information being shared that it can feel impossible to comprehend and understand ALL the instructions being provided to you. Directions for incision care, drain care, washing, activity restrictions, AND pain control are all coming in rapid fire and you and your caregiver are expected to digest it all in a matter of minutes. 

It’s easy for some of the ins and outs of post-op medications to get lost in the shuffle, so I’m breaking down common medications provided after discharge from mastectomy surgery (with or without reconstruction).

Prescription Pain Meds (Norco, Tramadol, Vicodin): It’s important to use these medications when necessary, and usually they are VERY necessary for the first few days out of surgery. Take medications as prescribed and pay close attention to timings of administration, recording times in a journal and assigning someone else in the home to help keep track of medication timing is a good idea– you have enough on your plate! 

Pro tip* If you need the prescription pain medication but don’t feel like you quite need the full dose you have been prescribed you can absolutely cut the pill in half (pill splitters are cheap on Amazon or at Walgreens/CVS–or a kitchen knife works well too). Start slow and work your way up! 

Over the Counter (OTC) Pain Meds (Tylenol, Ibuprofen): Do not underestimate the power of a rock solid OTC pain regimen. Most often comparable or even better pain control can be achieved with non-prescription pain medication than with the hard stuff. If the narcotics are causing more issues than not (nausea, constipation, dizziness) transitioning to alternating doses of Tylenol/Ibuprofen on a tight schedule is a great idea. Ibuprofen or other NSAIDS (Naproxen, Diclofenac) have AMAZING anti-inflammatory properties that the prescription pain pills and Tylenol do not have. Most post-op pain is inflammatory in nature, so addressing the issue with the right medication is key. Chat with your surgeon about when it would be ok to begin taking NSAIDS (generally 48-72 hours post-op), as they can slightly increase chances of postoperative bleeding. 

Stool Softeners (Colace/Docusate, Mirilax): The stool softeners will be your best friends for the first few weeks after surgery. Anesthesia and post-op pain medications can wreak havoc on your bowel habits causing uncomfortable bloating and constipation. The key with stool softeners is to take them regularly BEFORE constipation becomes an issue. Many prescriptions are provided with instructions to take as needed, so it is easy to get behind on the problem. Do yourself a favor and get ahead of the constipation by using stool softeners early. If you get to post-op day three and still have not had a bowel movement contact your surgeon for a stronger option 

Anti-Nausea Medication (Zofran, Compazine): Hopefully these medications are not needed, but having them in your toolbox is key to feeling prepared. The anesthesia provided to you during surgery along with prescription pain medications can increase episodes of post-op nausea and vomiting. Following a mastectomy it is vital to prevent vomiting if at all possible (vomiting = increase in blood pressure = higher chance of post-op bleeding issues). Take as prescribed at the first sign of escalating nauseousness. 


Back to blog