At first you will have a dressing on your wound. However, if after a couple of days you feel comfortable then a dressing is probably not necessary.
You may dread the idea of looking at your scar for the first time. It may look bruised at first but should fade to a neat ‘line’ within a few months. You may chose to wait until any drains are removed before you look at or touch your scar. There is no right or wrong time to look at your wound - you can choose when the time is right for you.
When you do first touch your wound, however, it is quite common for it to feel firm and uneven.
Following your operation you may have one or two suction drains coming from your wound. These drains are to remove old blood and other fluids and will help to reduce bruising and swelling around your wound. They are usually removed between 1-10 days after your operation, depending on the amount of drainage. Some people prefer to stay in hospital until their drains are removed, others prefer to go home and have the District Nurse remove the drains when the time is right. You can choose what is right for you.
The stitches in your wound may be dissolvable in which case they do not need to be removed. If they are not dissolvable they will need to be removed 10-14 days after your operation. The ward staff will make arrangements with the District or Practice Nurse to do this and this information will be given to you before you leave hospital.
It is normal to have ‘pins and needles’ and some discomfort across your chest and down your arm. This may be due to disturbance to the nerves in that area during surgery. In most cases full sensation will return but this can take some months. Occasionally there can be permanent numbness on upper arm but this should not affect the use of your arm.
How do I take care of my skin?
You may bathe or shower as usual, gently pat the area dry with a clean towel. It is advisable not to use any sprays, bubble baths or aerosol deodorants on or near the wound for about two weeks after your operation as they may cause stinging.
If you notice any redness or swelling, or if you develop a discharge from the wound please contact your GP or the ward on which you were treated for advice. Please refer to the additional leaflet ‘Your guide to recovery from breast surgery’. Wound infections do not happen often but when they do a course of antibiotics may be required.
Will I have pain?
You may find that you experience some pain and discomfort following your operation. Please ask for painkillers when you are in hospital. Simple painkillers such as paracetamol should relieve any pain when you get home. Be careful to read the instruction leaflet carefully. You may find it beneficial to take regular painkillers for the first couple of weeks but these can cause constipation. Regular fruit in your diet and increasing the amount of fluids you drink should help to prevent this.
Will I be able to move my arm?
You will see the Physiotherapist who will teach you a range of arm exercises and give you an exercise leaflet. It is very important that you follow the Physiotherapist’s advice and practise the exercises at home at frequent intervals. Please refer to the additional leaflet ‘Your guide to exercise following breast surgery’.
The purpose of these exercises is to prevent any arm or shoulder stiffness developing. It is tempting to over protect your arm and shoulder but this is one of the worst things you could do. The exercises are to help you regain the range of arm movements that you had before your operation. Continue these exercises at home and return to full use of your arm as soon as possible. Doing your exercises ‘little and often’ is probably the best advice.
Do not be alarmed if you ache or feel a pulling sensation during or after exercising. This is normal and unlike many abdominal operations, such as hysterectomy, it is very unlikely that exercising will do any damage.