Mastectomy Recovery: Week 1

Woman looks at her mastectomy recovery scars in the mirror


Week 1 |  Week 2 | Week 3 |  Week 4 |  Weeks 5-6 

We’re in the trenches 

Pain- Week one pain is as real as it gets, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be managed! Stay ahead of your pain with medication schedules. Record times you took medication in your journal so you never lose track of where you are and what medication you have on deck.  Alternate over the counter pain medication (Tylenol/Ibuprofen) on a tight schedule and introduce prescription pain medication when needed. Contact your surgeon’s team if you need assistance coordinating your pain regimen. 

Mobility- Arm mobility is minimal during week one. Gentle and slow arm movements below the level of the shoulder is generally encouraged, however it is important to control pain and minimize the production of internal body fluid (seromas) around your surgical site. Increased mobility = increased fluid production.  Movements should be limited in frequency and duration during this week. 

Hygiene- Showers are difficult during the first week of recovery. This could be due to surgical dressings, inability to reach arms over your head, or inability to perform simple scrubbing motions with your hands. If you are able to shower, utilizing a detachable shower head and shower chair (if accessible) might be a good idea. The idea of washing over incision lines at this point will be terrifying, however they are more resilient than they look! If showers aren’t happening, do your best to maintain hygiene with bath wipes and dry shampoo

Sleep- Sleep during the first week is challenging. It is reasonable to expect no more than 4-5 hours of sleep at a time during this week. Comfort is hard to come by, pain schedules are needing to be maintained, and the drains are constantly making their presence known. Many patients have found sleeping in a recliner at this stage provides the best chance for quality sleep. Nap when you can during the day to make up for the deficiency at night. 

Energy- Healing is an energy dependent process. Much of your daily energy allotment is being used to heal your surgical sites during the first week. Energy for anything other than performing basic activities of daily living (dressing, brushing teeth, eating, walking to the restroom) will be minimal. Give yourself grace and accept assistance during this time. 

Activity- The first week following mastectomy surgery is not the time to introduce additional activity. This phase will come, hang in there! 

Fuel- Set your body up for success with a high protein, moderate carb, low sugar diet in this acute recovery phase. Protein rich foods should be consumed at every meal along with a moderate portion of carbohydrates for energy. Keep in mind prescription pain medications may cause nausea and constipation. A small portion of easily digestible food (saltine crackers, applesauce) should be taken whenever pain medication is administered. High fiber foods along with plenty of water should take priority to maintain healthy bowel function. 

Pro tip- Invert prescriptions medication caps so they screw on/off rather than requiring the default push and twist motion- ouch! 

Self Care- Have a friend give you a manicure or go to a salon for a quality hair wash/dry

Boundaries- Limit visitors to 30 minutes, rest during the first week is crucial! 


Click here to read about week 2

Week 1 |  Week 2 | Week 3 |  Week 4 |  Weeks 5-6 

Mastectomy Gifts

Mastectomy Recovery Gift Box

The Mastectomy Recovery Gift Box provides the most comprehensive and helpful collection of recovery products for anyone planning to undergo mastectomy surgery, with or without breast reconstruction.

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Mastectomy Gifts

Mastectomy Pillow

Our mastectomy recovery pillow is a gift designed to shield your loved on's sensitive surgical sites from pressure and reduce pain, particularly from seatbelts. Features soft cushioning and a handy pocket for essentials, aiding to return to daily activities and follow-up visits with ease.

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Mastectomy Gifts

Drain Holders

Help your loved ones manage surgical drains following a mastectomy with our adjustable drain holding belt, capable of securing up to four surgical drains along with a separate shower drain holder to use while bathing.

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