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 post-surgery tips
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Re:post-surgery tips - Thursday, September 17, 2009 8:14 AM
Erika, you may even want to start the colace a couple of days before surgery.... it is just a stool softener and doesn't work immediately ..takes a few days...

Also be sure to ask your surgeon specifically what your post op restrictions are...I know it is different for every doctor and every situation...I had bi-lat with expanders .. my ps was calling the shots and I was not allowed to do ANYTHING until after the drains had been out for at least 4 to 5 days... he said I could use my arms to brush my teeth and eat...that's it ( well, and go to the bathroom)... I asked about using my laptop and he and his staff said NO... nothing... not even hold the phone for long periods of writing thank you notes no nothing..I did not move my upper arms until almost 3 weeks after surgery... and barely moved my lower..he was very clear on his instructions and the discharge nurse stressed them did his office nurses... also had to be at a 30 degree angle most of the time....he scheduled me for pt after he began allowing movement and I didn't have any problems regaining my range of motion... and no other complications so April 14th.. exchange July 8th.. nips Sept 9 and Tats Nov 9th...


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Re:post-surgery tips - Thursday, September 17, 2009 10:11 AM
Hi Bnells,

Our doctors were so different, my PS wanted me doing range of motion right away and when I went home I was on a 5 lb per arm lifting restriction but the more I moved and the more overhead movement the better is what I was told to do...I was showering in the hospital and at home and used my computer, I even had it in the hospital with me.  My drains came home with me too...that was the worst part of it and they were pulled one by one over the next 3.5 weeks...

Its funny how the different surgeons have their own way...but yes, you should always follow their instructions post-op...oh, I had bilat. mast. and TEs also...

Paula, age 46, diagnosed at age 45, er/pr+, Her2-      
2/26/09 DX IDC multifocal, solid and cribriform type, 6 masses total, largest 2.0 cm
4/15/09 Bilateral skin sparring mastectomy with TE, 3 nodes removed, clear, Grade 1, Stage IIa
5/22/09 DIEP   5/26/09 Removal of failed left flap, TE replaced
7/2/09 Left Lat Flap with silicone implant
8/10/09-11/23/09 6 rounds chemo Cytoxan/Taxotere
3/5/10 More reconstruction
6/20/11 Final big reconstruction sur

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Re:post-surgery tips - Thursday, September 17, 2009 2:37 PM
Thank you Bobbie, I won't be having any plastic surgery at this time. I know my breast surgeon talked about movement and daily activities but to be careful. She said she would see how I was doing and IF I needed PT or not?

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Re:post-surgery tips - Friday, September 18, 2009 8:23 AM
My ps said he likes for the "pocket" to have time to completely heal before any movements...however my range of motion was not as affected because I did not have a lat flap....   I asked him when I was there last time why he didn't do a lat flap on me and he said if it had been just 1 he would have but he doesn't like to do lat flaps with bi-laterals... he used dermamatrix I think he called it...cadaver tissue....anyway I am very thankful that so far I have not had any complications....
Yes it is funny how so many doctors have different ways of handling things but all work...thanks goodness... and I think that it is so important to realize that every person has a unique set of circumstances... so that also means different ways of treatment/recovery etc ...all based on your situation....


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Re:post-surgery tips - Friday, November 20, 2009 9:05 PM
Before surgery, get a pedicure with outragous bright polish..festive toes lifted my spirits in the hospital.
Plan to wear some comfortable stretchy pants home from the hospital, because they will have pumped you so full of fluids that you will have a lot of water weight for a few days.
Take your pain medicine before you need it. There are no awards for toughing it out, and the stress of pain slows your body's ability to heal.

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Re:post-surgery tips - Wednesday, December 09, 2009 11:29 PM
Hi, bumping to the top....
My bilat. mast. is December 18th......just read all messages here, as well as the "take to the hospital" tips.....many thanks to all of you........any new thoughts?  Your insight is enormously've brought up a number of things that never crossed my mind. wishes and thanks countdown continues.......take care...
...have a happy....Diane
09/08 Excis biop R breast - Dx LCIS
12/08 Hyster & Oopherectomy (endometrial hyperplasia)
06/09 Clear bilat. mammo & ultrasound
08/09 Bilat. breast MRI - "suspicious" area on L
10/09 L breast lumpectomy - Dx hi grade DCIS  
DVT hist R/O hormone therapy
Bilat. mast. w/expanders on Dec 18, 2009 
 Reconstruct date & type 2B determined

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Re:post-surgery tips - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 7:21 AM
Hey guys,

Today I had my gyno surgery. I finally stepped up to the plate and did it. This is my story about how it went.

I have had this gyno since I first hit puberty. I was always pretty skinny buy I had a pointy chest, this stopped me from going to the beach with my shirt off when I got a little older, I never went to the pools etc. It really bothered me. I thought at first I must have had fat around my chest because I was just unlucky and this is where my fat was stored. I started working out when I was around 22 and went to the gym 5 days a week. I toned up and got to be very skinny but the fat around my chest never seemed to get any lower. I searched on Google and came across many sites and that’s when I first thought that I might have had gyno. I didn’t do anything about it until I was 24 because I was scared of going under the knife. Well finally I decided that something had to be done.

I started searching the net for surgeons who could do the surgery and ended up deciding to use Dr. Ashley Granot from the Ashley Centre in Melbourne. I went to see him for a consultation and had all the blood tests. It turns out that all my blood work was perfectly normal for a guy my age. They didn’t have a reason why I had gyno; it was just one of those things. Anyway the surgery set me back $4500 all up including EVERYTHING.

On the day that I was going into surgery I wasn’t allowed to eat anything for 6 hours before operation. I went in and I was nervous as anything. They got me to strip down into a surgical gown and the nurse gave me an intramuscular injection into my glute, it was pain killer and relaxants. I thought it was going to hurt but it didn’t hurt that much at all. After that another nurse put a drip into my arm, I thought it was going to hurt again, but it didn’t, they put heaps of saline into the drip.

After about 15 minutes of waiting for the drugs to kick in the doctor came into the room and cut an incision into my armpit. He inserted a clear plastic tube into the incision and started to pump me full of muscle relaxants, pain killer and something to dilute the fat. He put about 800mls into my chest. After that we waited another 15 minutes for the pain killer and fat diluting solution to start working. The inserting of the clear plastic tube was the most painful part of the surgery. I think painful is a bit harsh of a word. I would say it was VERY uncomfortable. As he was pushing in the tube I could feel the fat ripping away from the muscle below it.

After that he got the liposuction canula and started sucking out the fat. This took a fair while and didn’t hurt for the most part. A few times he hit a hard part of fat which would hurt very slightly but it was bearable. When he finished sucking out all the fat there was still a bit of breast tissue which he could not get out through the canula because it was too hard. So he made an incision around my nipple and pulled it out with some tweezer looking things and he just cut it. This was uncomfortable as I could feel the tissues being ripped out of my chest. But it didn’t hurt. After this was done he sewed me up and I could sit up and put on my compression vest.

Throughout the entire procedure I was awake and could see what was going on. I was sedated but not fully knocked out. The doctor said he did not want to give me general anesthetic and knock me out fully because that was too risky for a minor procedure. He said something like 1 in 10,000 people die from an allergic reaction to general anesthetic or something like that. Plus I wanted to be awake because I didn’t want anything to stuff up and I had heard some horror stories about doctors cutting out chest muscles and stuff like that. I was talking throughout the whole procedure, probably a lot of jibberish cause of all the relaxants but yea.

All in all I am happy that I finally have my gyno gone and I have a flat chest. I only did the surgery this morning and I am already up and about. It doesn’t hurt much at all, it just feels like a really hard gym workout session and I can’t lift my arms over my head. Other than that I got some pain killers but I don’t even need them. If you are thinking about doing this, just DO IT. Don’t be scared of the surgery it’s not that bad.

If you have any questions ill be happy to answer them. Tomorrow I have to go back to the surgery for a post op check up.

My chest is FLAT!!!!!!!

Hope I have helped someone out there!


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Re:post-surgery tips - Friday, January 22, 2010 11:04 AM
Loved these tips.  I just had surgery a couple of weeks ago so here are my additions.
Camisoles after surgery (note -- I had bilateral mastectomy and axillary node dissection -- no reconstruction).  For just after surgery I had camisoles with the pockets to hold the drains -- for the first week I used the kind that velcroed in the front.  They were fabulous -- easy on and easy off, very soft.  After the drains were out and the bandages came off, I switched to another kind that you could pull up over your hips.  Probably would have been more difficult immediately after surgery, but after bandages were off these were better because the seams on the side were on the outside, so much nicer against fresh stitches.  I can't remember the website where I found them but if you go to the "breast free" website (google it), you will get there.  (Excellent site). 
Be sure not to get your surgery scheduled on Friday if you have a choice.  The weekend staff are not the usual staff, and sometimes care can suffer.  I have had this experience once 20 years ago, forgot about it, and so had the experience again.  :(
I got the big wedge pillow also found thru the breast free site which has helped me sleep on my back comfortably (something I used to hate).  I also got 4 big down pillows to put around my side -- one for each arm, and one under each knee.  I feel very pampered when I go to sleep!
To wear home I wore the velcro in the front cami, black stretchy pants, and a big comfortable flannel shirt that buttoned in the front.  At home I have been wearing big LL Bean pink button in the front pajamas -- very comfortable. 
I brought a suitcase with all kinds of things but didn't really need it.  I was in the hospital 2 nights. 
My experience with a bilateral mastectomy is that it really helps if you have someone lined up to help with the "milking" of the drains at home.  I think it would be very hard to do on one's own in terms of reaching and arm strength.  My husband did it for me, God bless him.
Hope these tips help :)
married 19 years to my hubbie
mom to 3 kiddos (5, 7 & 8)
diag. inv. ductal carcinoma, stage IIB/IIIA, her2+
Phase I: 12 wks neoadjuvant herceptin/taxol (DONE!)
Phase II: bilateral mast. on 1/8/2010 (DONE!) Path report:  total tumor evaporation from Phase I!
Phase III: 12 wks a/c chemo starting 1/29/2010 (DONE!)
Phase IV: 5 wks rads (DONE!) 
Phase V: herceptin thru Dec. 2010
Phase VI: arimidex thru July 2015
NED since Jan. 20

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Re:post-surgery tips - Saturday, February 06, 2010 12:48 AM
Post-mastectomy tips for the first few weeks (in addition to all the others already posted...):

--buy super soft pajama tops and/or tank tops that have a wide neckline that you can step into. (My skin was very sensitive for weeks following bilateral mastectomy.)

--bikini panties are easier to pull up than briefs

--hand sanitizer is more comfortable than pumping soap and leaning over bathroom sink to wash hands

--slip-on shoes a must for a couple weeks (or have someone tie your shoes)

--pull hair off face to avoid getting hair oily

--sleep in a recliner for a week or so (getting out of bed is difficult)

--use straws for drinks

--just want to repeat: stool softners 2-3/day while on pain meds and lots of water :)

--tell your kids what's going on in terms they can understand. Kids aren't dumb and if you tell them nothing, they'll be scared.
I told my kids, 5 and 7, that my breast had something in it called cancer and it wasn't supposed to be there so the doctor was taking it out. I told them my chest might look funny when I come home, but I'm still the same mommy. I told them that I could give kisses but not hugs for awhile and that I was going to be okay. They did great. And so have I, 2.5 months post-op.

--arrange for a friendly adult to come play with your kids at your house. My sister-in-law brought over a basket of arts and crafts to do with the kids. They loved it and I loved watching them.
<message edited by HJC on Saturday, February 06, 2010 12:51 AM>
diagnosed age 39

Joshua 1:9
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

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Re:post-surgery tips - Sunday, March 07, 2010 7:16 PM
Thank you for all the tips!  I live alone and have three dogs, so after-surgery advice is very important to me.  (yes I am the canine equivalent of the crazy cat lady).

I am wondering one thing though.  I tested positive for the BRCA2 gene and I am seriously considering bilateral prophylactic mastectomy with saline implants.  Is that surgery a bit easier than if you have a positive diagnosis?  The surgeon says no lymph node dissection will likely be needed, that I'll be going home the next day, and I should be back to my beloved weight lifting in about three weeks.  Maybe only the pink dumbbells instead of the squat rack....but back.  :)

Are my expectations too high?  I expect the first week will be very difficult, and I have friends who will stop by.  I'm pretty type A organized, and was planning on making frozen light 1 meal units to eat, and stock up on sugary small light bottled drinks.  I'm also in pretty good shape physically....although I realize this will knock me back a bit.

I guess, based on your advice, I now have permission to get a bunch of guy's flannel shirts to wear -- I forced myself to give those up at 35 but now I can indulge my weakness for grunge wear with impunity.
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