Taking Care of Your Wound After Breast Surgery

After breast cancer surgery, you will have a bandage, also called a dressing, over the place where you had surgery. You may also have tubes in your breast to remove blood and lymph fluids that build up during the healing process. This means you may have to drain the tubes, measure the fluid, and learn to identify any problems you may need to tell your doctor or nurse about.

The drain stays in place for about 2 weeks or until only a small amount of fluid is draining from the wound. Your doctor or nurse will give you written instructions on how to care for your wound, change your bandage, and drain and check the fluid. You’ll also learn when to call your doctor or nurse about a problem. You should study the instructions and share them with your caregiver, if you have one.

Your doctor will suggest when to return to check the wound and, if necessary, to remove stitches. You may be told to start postmastectomy exercises the day after your surgery or at a later time. These exercises may include doing things like flexing your fingers and touching your hand to your shoulder. Ask if there are any exercises you should avoid to prevent swelling.

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