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Breast surgery pain management at home

You’ve just had your procedure; all the excitement and pre-surgery nerves have worn off and the reality of post-op pain hits...ouch!

March 2nd, 2019 |Ask an Expert

How to manage your post-op pain

To help support you in your recovery journey we have put together a helpful guide with information to help manage your post-op pain from the comfort of your own home. Follow our tips and advice and happy healing!

  1. Take your medication as prescribed by your surgeon
    After your operation, your chest may feel tight and your breasts and ribs will be tender. You may lose some sensation in your nipples and feel quite uncomfortable for a couple of days, but rest assured, these are all normal things to expect after breast surgery. If you are feeling worried or want to speak to other patients in those early days of recovery, head to the MYA forum!

    The key to managing your pain is to take your medication as prescribed by your surgeon. In the early stages of your recovery you will be feeling quite sleepy and drowsy from the anaesthetic, make the most of this time to relax, watch some Netflix and catch up on sleep. If the medication prescribed by your surgeon is not helping relieve your pain, you must contact your healthcare team for further advice.

    Some patients' pain medication is so effective that they forget they’ve just had surgery and continue with daily tasks. We highly recommend you take it easy for the first couple of days post-op and make sure you don’t over-exert yourself. (This is the perfect excuse to get some help with all those pesky household chores - call a friend or a family member and arrange for them to come round and help out!)

  2. Sleep upright
    We advise you try to sleep propped upright at a 45-degree angle for 2 weeks minimum (if possible). This helps to reduce swelling and helps with symmetry. Lots of patients recommend using a V-shaped pillow to help you sleep more comfortably. We suggest using a small pillow to pop under your lower back for support, and using extra pillows can help to stop you from rolling on to your side in the night. 

  3. Wear your post-surgery bra 24hrs a day
    Following breast surgery, you are required to wear a post-surgery bra for 6-8 weeks day and night. We know that it's tempting to wear pretty bralets, however, it is very important that you continue to wear your post-surgery bra for the recommended time. They might not be the sexiest thing out there but they support your breasts and aid your healing. Just remember, there's no rush, you'll have plenty of time to show off your new boobs and wear pretty lingerie once you are done healing. 

    Your post-surgery bra will be tight and feel restrictive, but it is important you keep it on at all times. We suggest you buy two bras, so you can wear one and wash the other at the same time.

  4. Follow your indiviual care plan
    Every patient is provided with an individual plan of care; some MYA surgeons use strapping and breast bands post-surgery to stop any unnecessary movement; therefore, it is important you continue to wear your strapping or breast band for the time period recommended. The strapping is very tight, can be restricting and can sometimes cause skin irritation. It is important you contact your healthcare team at MYA if this occurs, or if the strapping becomes painful when breathing.

  5. Invest in ice packs
    During your recovery, your breasts may feel tight and hot. Applying ice packs or frozen peas intermittently to the tops of the breasts only (avoiding the nipple area and incision sites) is a great way to help relieve pain. We advise wrapping them in a towel or applying them over clothes. 

  6. Post-surgery bloating
    After an anaesthetic, you may experience bloating and constipation; these are common side effects from your anaesthetic and medications. However, if you experience stomach pains or are concerned, you must contact your healthcare team for advice. To help relieve any bloating, we suggest comfy loose fitting clothes and a cuddly hot water bottle! 

  7. Comfort is key
    Wearing the right clothing has never been so essential... comfort is key! During your first couple of days post-op your chest will be tight, and you may have restricted movement. We suggest wearing clothing that buttons up at the front or zip-up hoodies. Anything that doesn’t need to go over your head and is easy to take on and off is preferable.

  8. Don't be afraid to ask for help
    Ask a friend or family member to stay with you during the first few days; you may need help getting out of bed, going to the toilet and getting changed. If you have children, we advise organising childcare to lend a helping hand with meal and bed times. Please be aware that lifting small children after surgery is not advised for 6 weeks.

  9. Take it easy
    Any excuse not to exercise is happily welcomed by the majority of us, but if you are one of those people who likes to keep active there are a few things you need to know. MYA advise not to return to exercise until you are 6 weeks post-op following breast surgery. We do suggest keeping yourself mobile after the initial pain subsides,  going for short walks and keeping your body and circulation moving can help to ease pain. When you do return to physical exercise, take it easy and seek advice from a personal trainer.

  10. You must attend all your post-op appointments
    It is essential that you attend your post-operative appointments with your MYA nurse and surgeon; it is also very important to ensure that you follow all instructions provided to you. Doing this will give you the best opportunity to of achieving the desired results. Failure to follow this guidance may compromise your results, your health and the terms and conditions relating to your procedure.

MYA Out of hours support

During office hours you can call 03330 14 10 14 to speak with a member of the MYA team.

Outside office hours in the case of an emergency (bleeding, pain or any other major concern) please call the number listed on the MYA Out of Hours Emergency Contact Information Card (you will be given this at your pre-operative appointment with the nurse) It is important that you keep this card with you at all times.

MYA offers access to telephone support 24 hours a day and if required, your surgeon will be contacted.

 

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