What happens after your surgery for breast cancer is completed? This is a question most women wish to know. The surgery is like any other operation that needs attention and lots of care once you reach home. You should ask your doctor about the expected recovery time after your operation. You should listen to all his/her instructions and ensure you rest well once you are back home.
Breast cancer surgery and the days that follow
You will generally wake up in a surgical recovery room after the operation is complete. You will be wearing a mask after the breast cancer surgery or have very small tubes inserted inside your nostrils or the nasal cannula for oxygen. Most women complain of dizziness and the feelings of sluggishness immediately after waking up from breast cancer surgery.
You will notice a cuff on your arm. This is for your blood pressure. A small clip will be attached to your finger for monitoring pulse and oxygen levels. When you awake from the surgery, your nurse will take you into the ward again to measure blood pressure and check the conditions of the surgical dressings on the area operated. If your condition is good, the tubes and drains inserted in your body will be gradually removed.
Healing of the wound
The doctor will place a pad like dressing on the wound. It can also be a sticky dressing that is clear in nature. Some doctors use a waterproof type of dressing that remains in place until you return to the hospital or clinic for your first appointment as an outpatient. On the other hand, most doctors prefer to examine the wound after a day or two from the surgery.
What about the surgical stitches?
Most doctors will use stitches that dissolve gradually during the first few weeks after the surgery. These stitches need not be taken out. Again, if the stitches have to be taken out, you need to visit your surgeon after seven days or so. You can go to your nurse for cutting off these stitches too. The wound takes two to three weeks to heal. The area is generally swollen and bruised at first. Before you return home, your nurse will instruct you on how to take care of the wound and what to do if any kind of problem arises. Of course, for serious complications, you must immediately consult your doctor.
Pain is normal in the first few weeks after breast cancer surgery; however, do not panic. You will be prescribed pain killers for it by your doctor. You should inform the doctor about the intensity of the pain you face. Your doctor will understand its nature and recommend the correct dosage. Often you may be prescribed to go home with a wound drain. They stay in place to collect the drain emitted from the wound. You need to wear them for at least two to five days after the surgery. Once fluids from the wound stop draining, it will be removed by your doctor or nurse.