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Discharge Instructions for Prophylactic Mastectomy

Prophylactic mastectomy is the surgical removal of 1 or both breasts in an effort to prevent or reduce the risk of breast cancer. There are several reasons women choose this surgery. You talked to your doctor about these reasons before your surgery. Here's what you need to do at home following this surgery.


Be sure you understand what you can and cannot do as you recover from surgery.

  • Ask your friends or family to help with chores and errands while you recover.

  • Don’t lift anything heavy until the doctor says it's OK.

  • Don’t push a vacuum or do other active or strenuous housework until the doctor says it’s OK.

  • Do the range-of-motion exercises that you learned in the hospital.


Other home care

Here are suggestions for taking care of yourself at home.

  • Take pain relievers as directed.

  • Check your incision daily for signs of redness, swelling, or separation of the skin.

  •  Follow your doctor's instructions about bathing or showering, as long as your incision isn’t draining, swelling, or red:

    • Wash your incision gently with mild soap and warm water, if your doctor says it's OK.  Pat dry.

    • Keep your incision clean and dry.

    • Don’t soak in a tub, hot tub, or pool until your doctor says it’s OK.

  • Check your temperature every day for 1 week after your surgery.

  • Return to your normal diet as you feel able. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your doctor. You may also want to make an appointment to talk to someone about reconstructive surgery or breast prostheses.


When to call your doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever above 100.4 °F (38°C) or chills

  • Drainage from your incision

  • Swelling around your incision

  • Increasing pain in or around your incision

  • Swelling in your arm or hand on the surgery side

Know what problems to watch for and when you need to call your doctor or nurse. Also, be sure you know how to get help after office hours and on weekends and holidays.


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