Mastectomy Recovery: Week 3

Woman looks at her mastectomy recovery scars in the mirror


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

The hump

Pain- At week three prescription pain medications should be a thing of the past. Over the counter pain medication still may be necessary, especially for triggering events like traveling, or showering. Begin to wean as tolerated and continue to record medication administration times so you can remember exactly where you stand if/when another dose is needed. 


Mobility- By week three if drains are out and your surgeon has cleared you to increase arm mobility, seeking a physical therapy referral is a great idea! By opting for early intervention with a certified physical therapist many issues associated with arm/shoulder mobility (think axillary web syndrome or “cording”) can be avoided. Even if seeing a PT seems like overkill, going in for one session can at a minimum provide you the confidence for what movements you can and cannot safely complete at home.  


Hygiene- Showers are probably fully back on the table at this point, woohoo! Although working up a good lather to wash your hair is likely not back to baseline, you should now at least be able to raise your arms to the point where you can reach your head and do some gentle washing. Cleaning over incision lines is now an old habit and your confidence in this is significantly improved. 


Sleep- Sleep this week may be slightly more tolerable. Depending on your surgery/reconstruction plan your team may clear you to ease back into side sleeping. If that is the case do so slowly and with methodical movements. Extra pillows are still a great idea.  If you still find yourself in the recliner at this point that is great too!  Daytime naps may no longer be needed but are still highly encouraged.


Energy- By week three of recovery, energy levels will start to trend up. Simple tasks are still tiring, but they are no longer exhausting. At this point it can be easy to overextend and push yourself past what you can handle. Be very mindful of what you commit to during this time. It is easy to burn out what little energy stores return by this point.


Activity- At this point, if drains are out and your surgeon is on board it is likely ok to increase a walking distance to 1-1.5 miles at a slow pace. A stationary bicycle is also a good option for increased activity at this time. Just a simple slow paced 15 minute ride with light resistance is all that is advised.    


Fuel- For week three, it remains important to fuel your body with the high protein, moderate carb, low sugar diet. If you are cooking for yourself at this phase keep things simple with easy to prepare meals that check all the boxes. Think eggs and wheat toast for breakfast, a tuna salad sandwich and veggies for lunch, and chicken and brown rice for dinner. Continue to give your body the nutrients it needs to efficiently recover during this phase. 


Pro tip- When selecting a physical therapist, consider a center close to your home. It is possible your therapist will recommend multiple sessions per week. Save yourself time and logistical challenges by keeping things close to home. 

Self Care- Order a nutritious and delicious dinner from your favorite neighborhood restaurant. 

Boundaries- You may be more open to visitors and social time this week, but remain mindful of not overcommitting.   


Click here to read about week 4

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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