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How should I care for myself after breast cancer surgery?

The most important thing you can do for yourself after breast cancer surgery is take care of your skin and keep the affected side clean with soap and water. You’ll also need to keep an eye on the incision site for drainage, redness, swelling, or any other signs that it’s not healing well.

Follow the guidelines in caring for yourself after breast surgery:

  1. Bathing. You may use your affected arm to wash your body. Remember: Using your affected arm for daily activities such as bathing will assist in regaining motion of your arm.
  2. Dressing. Following surgery, a front-closure sports bra and button or snap blouse/top may make dressing easier. Put your affected arm in the armhole/sleeve first. Avoid wearing tight clothing or jewelry or sleeves with tight elastic armbands, as these may increase pressure and cause swelling of the arm.
  3. Grooming. Remember to sit/stand upright when brushing your teeth or styling your hair -- don't slouch! You may use your affected arm for these daily activities, but avoid excessive reaching, which may cause pain/pulling at the incision.
  4. Cooking and cleaning. You may use your affected arm for cooking and cleaning, but avoid vigorous, repetitive motions such as scrubbing, pushing, and, pulling. Plan rest breaks to avoid fatigue and pain.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.