Like most surgeries, a mastectomy requires a period of hospitalization and a few weeks of recovery time at home. Depending on the scope of the surgery and whether you are also having reconstructive surgery, the hospital stay may be anywhere from one to several nights. Preparing for your surgery and making your recovery period as comfortable as possible will help things go smoothly. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your mastectomy.


Mastectomy care requires more than just rest and medical attention. You’ll still need the essentials for taking care of yourself, like your toothbrush and toothpaste. Taking a shower is going to be off limits directly after your surgery, so you’ll also want to pack items to freshen up. Consider bringing baby wipes, dry shampoo, a hairbrush, and hair ties.

Unfortunately, unless you had a mastectomy on only one side, don’t bother bringing deodorant. That will be off limits, too.

Cozy Clothes

Be sure to pack outfits that are relaxed, loose-fitting, and easy to get on and off. Don’t bring anything that needs to go over your head. Zip-ups, button-up shirts, and stretchy pajama pants should be your go-to.

The hospital will provide you with hospital gowns and slip-resistant socks, but you may get tired of wearing those things. You can bring your own non-skid fuzzy socks or slippers. Wearing a comfy robe will come in handy when healthcare workers need to check on the incision areas.

Don’t worry about bras. You’ll be wearing a surgical bra for a while, so you can leave your bras at home. If they don’t offer a surgical bra for you to take home, be sure to request one.

Creature Comforts

You want to pack light, but don’t forget to bring a few things to entertain you and help you relax. If you plan on using your phone a lot, you may want to invest in a long cell phone charger cord to reach an outlet. Other things you might want to bring are headphones, books, magazines, and a neck pillow. To really settle into the space, you could even bring a small scented oil diffuser.

Hospitals aren’t always the quietest or darkest of places, so ear plugs and an eye mask can come in very handy. And, most importantly, bring your favorite snacks! Hospitals are notorious for having just so-so food and designated meal times.

Rely on Others to Help

Reach out to your family members or friends to help you after your surgery. You’ll likely be on pain medication and the doctor won’t want you to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. That means you’ll have to arrange for someone to help you out of the hospital with your belongings and drive you home. Before you go, make sure to fill your prescriptions at the hospital.

Once you’re home, ask for help with meal prep and weekly chores, like laundry and cleaning, while you recover. Before your surgery, stock up on snacks and frozen meals to make things easier.

Organize Your Home

Your range of motion will be limited. The easiest solution is to put everything within easy reach.

Pull out your robes and comfy clothing where it’s easy to access. You may spend a lot of time in your bed, so put your remote, snacks, water bottles, and magazines on your bed stand. Fluff up your bed with plenty of pillows. When you are allowed to shower, a handheld shower head and a shower chair will come in handy.

There are many women in your situation who have already gone through mastectomies. Reach out to social groups to get useful advice and support from people just like you.

Author's Bio: 

Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but also enjoys covering the fashion industry and the world of fitness.