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  • Danyell Russell, PT, DPT

My Must-Haves for Mastectomy/DIEP Flap Reconstruction

Hello everyone! Most of you know at this point that I had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and DIEP flap reconstruction on 3/21. I am 3 weeks post op now, and I wanted to share some of the things that have been helpful for me as I recover.

First some MUST HAVES:

Wedge pillow for bed -

I was told that I would want to sleep in a recliner for the first several weeks, which didn't work for me: 1. Because we don't have SPACE for a recliner and 2. Because I didn't want to be out of my own bed for that long. I have found that a wedge pillow and pillows under my knees have worked JUST fine. Speaking of....

Pillows for under your knees. Pillows for under your arms. Just get lots of pillows. I'm currently sleeping with 6 pillows: 2 for under my knees, 2 for under my arms, and 2 for under my head. So yeah, just pillows!

Oversized pants/shorts to fit over drains - Stretchy pants are going to be your BEST FRIEND. You want them stretchy enough to be able to go over your drains without tugging on them. You will also be swollen coming home, so it's nice to have oversized for that reason as well.

Button up shirts with drain pockets -

PJs with pockets for drains -

Robe with pockets for drains -

Button up shirts are a MUST at first since you won't be able to reach overhead for a bit. I, personally, did not use the pockets on the inside of the shirts/robes because I ended up safety pinning them to my abdominal binder. But not every plastic surgeon wants their patient in an abdominal binder, so the pockets would really come in handy then!

Post surgical bras - larger than your normal size -

My plastic surgeon wanted me to wait a week before putting on a post surgical bra, but it was really nice to have a little support once I was allowed to have it. You're going to be swollen, which is why I say to size up!

Reacher/grabber -

This is one I hadn't even thought of, but my mother-in-law came through and got me one. This is a must have to reach things on the floor/overhead, since you will have trouble both bending over and reaching overhead for a bit.

Mastectomy pillow -

Abdominal pillow for in the car -

I only use this in the car/to wear to doctor's appointments. For in the car to have cushion between you and the seatbelt and for doctor's appointments because it's nice to have the pocket on the front.

This one is HUGELY important. I roll this thing between my bedroom and my spot on the couch. It holds all the essentials and lifts up and down to fit both spaces.

Drain holders for showers - You'll want something to hold your drains for in the shower. This is what I used, but I have also had people tell me they used a lanyard and safety pins too. And speaking of the shower....

Shower chair -

This was a must have for me for the first couple of weeks. I was so tired and my back hurt so much when I stood, that I needed to sit down to shower. I actually borrowed one, but this is one I found on Amazon that looks similar to the one I have.

Snacks nearby - My faves -

Coughing and sneezing are NO JOKE for the first couple weeks. And my throat was really scratchy after coming out of surgery, so cough drops were an essential for me!

Bathing wipes -

These were great for the days I didn't feel like getting into the shower, but wanted to freshen up.

Bending over to wash my face wasn't helping my back pain, so these were really helpful!

Materials for dressing changes:

Non adherent pads -

Medical tape -

You'll have lots of dressings to change at first, so having materials for those dressing changes is important! I totally forgot to buy these until I was home. Thank goodness for Amazon!

Nice to have:

Water bottle with a straw -

I actually got this one from a friend. But I will say having a cup/water bottle with a straw was really helpful initially, since I couldn't really sit up to drink. You'll probably get one at the hospital anyway, but having MINE was really nice.

A new extra comfy blanket -

I loved having a new blanket to be able to snuggle up to after my surgery.

New comfy house shoes -

Having slip on house shoes was also super nice, because bending over to put on shoes was really hard at first!

New comfy fuzzy socks -

These fuzzy socks even have grippers on the bottom, so they're slip resistant. Comfy AND safe!

I hope that this post helps you narrow down things that you'll want/need after having surgery. These are just some things that were helpful for me! What else do you want to know about my surgery/recovery?

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Carolina Smith
Carolina Smith
26 Φεβ

I really enjoyed this blog post. I read it over with my mother who is going in for surgery next week and it helped us create a list of things to get ready - thank you!

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