What Should You Know Before a Mastectomy?

13 November, 2018
Having a mastectomy is a very important step that you take in life, so you should neither fear it nor take it lightly. Talk to your doctor to make sure that you completely understand everything that this procedure entails.

Sometimes, cases of breast cancer result in a mastectomy. It’s not the first choice, but occasionally it’s the only option that could save your life.

To understand this procedure a little better, it’s important to learn what the surgical removal of part or all of the breast entails.

It’s easy to write it down or read it, but going through the entire process is difficult.

That’s why it’s important that you change the way you think about this form of breast cancer treatment. You need to understand that having a mastectomy is a big life change, but nothing to be a afraid of.

Recently, even some women who have just been diagnosed with breast cancer have chosen to have this operation in a preventative manner.

Either way, understanding is key.

In this article, we’ll take a look at a few things you should know before having a mastectomy.

1. It’s physically different for every woman

Some people may experience more pain than others. Depending on your body, you might find that your recovery time takes less time or longer than the norm, which is 12 weeks.

Read more: Breast Cancer: The Different Types, Symptoms and Treatment

In the end, it’s your body that decides when you’ll be able to return to your normal routine.

This is something that you can prepare for: have someone to help you after your mastectomy. It’s important to be sure you’ll have someone by your side.

The first two weeks after surgery will be very complicated. It will affect your mobility for even simple things, like opening a bottle of water or combing your hair.

This is the time when you’ll start to worry about the pain that your mastectomy will cause. However, you should know that some women don’t experience much pain. In fact, some of them feel nothing after their surgery. Others have a sensation of pressure and nothing else.

2. A mastectomy can have complications

A mastectomy is a surgery just like any other, so it’s important that you mentally prepare yourself for any complications associated with your body or your health.

Some women don’t feel like the surgery was a big deal, while others are greatly inconvenienced by it.

  • One impact is that your breathing may become shallow due to the pain.
  • In addition, you have a higher risk of developing pneumonia due to a lack of filtration in your lungs. You must take care of yourself in the days following surgery as this is when you run the greatest risk of infection.
  • Another consequence is constipation. This usually results from the effects of anesthesia and the narcotics that you will be prescribed for pain. These drugs can cause you to spend a night in the emergency room because you haven’t had a bowel movement for days.

It’s important to talk with your doctor to get suggestions for what to do to prevent this. A diet that’s high in fiber can be helpful.

Please read: 6 Rare Effects of Anxiety

3. Breast reconstruction is an option


The subject of breast reconstruction after a mastectomy is a sensitive issue that’s unique to the needs of each woman.

Some women choose not to have reconstruction because of personal reasons, while others believe that they need to be at peace with their new body.

While having breasts is associated with beauty, some women suffer during the process of reconstruction. Others who had very large breasts may feel freed from back pain and choose not to reconstruct them.

Regardless, you must analyze your personal needs before deciding whether to go to through the reconstruction process.

Talk about Your Concerns and Don’t be Afraid

Having a mastectomy is a very important step that you take in life, so you should neither fear it nor take it lightly.

Talk to your doctor to make sure that you completely understand everything that this procedure entails.

  • Borbón Mendoza, J. E., & Beato Canfux, A. I. (2002). Enfoque actual de la problemática salud-sociedad en pacientes con mastectomía. Revista Cubana de Medicina Militar, 31(1), 47-53.
  • Del Val Gil, J. M., Bañeres, M. L., López, F. R., Martínez, A. U., & Serrano, A. M. (2001). Cáncer de mama y mastectomía. Estado actual. Cirugía española, 69(1), 56-65.
  • Silva de Oliveira, M., Carvalho Fernandes, A. F., Mesquita Melo, E., & Falcão Juvenal Barbosa, I. C. (2005). Cuidados preoperatorios de mastectomía bajo la óptica de la mujer. Revista Cubana de Enfermería, 21(2), 1-1.