To help in your recovery, we encourage you to frequently move while you are in bed. Simple things like bending your knees, wiggling your toes and moving your feet often. You will be helped out of bed for a short time by the evening of your operation, or the next morning. You will walk around your room and sit in a chair the day after your surgery. You should be up and about the nursing unit by the next day.
You need to breathe deeply and cough many times each day. This keeps your lungs healthy. Pain medication can be given to make coughing easier.
You may be shown how to use an "incentive spirometer" (a simple tool to encourage deep breathing) to help with your breathing exercises.
If you smoke, you should stop. If you can't stop, you should try to smoke less. This will help keep your lungs clear and help you recover faster.
Food and Drink
The IV will be removed when you are able to keep down your liquids. By the second day after surgery, you will be able to eat and drink most choices, however appetites often take a while to return to normal.
It is normal not to have a bowel movement for a few days after your operation. You will be given a stool softener or a laxative the second day after surgery. If required, an enema may be offered on the third day after surgery.
If you have an incision, you may have stitches or staples. Stitches under your skin are not removed - they will dissolve naturally. Stitches above your skin, as well as staples, are usually removed five to seven days after the operation. Ask your doctor or nurse for information about your incision. On the second day, after your surgery, the bandage will be removed. Then, your incision will be checked and cleaned by the nurse daily. You may feel some itching and pulling as your incision heals. This is normal and will feel better in time.
After most surgeries, you will probably go home about two to five days after your operation. For the first week or two, you will tire easily. Do not try to do too much. You may do some light housework and cooking, but it is important not to get too tired. Vacuuming, heavy lifting (over five pounds), straining and activity such as sports or aerobics should be avoided.
Be careful about trying to drive a car too soon. It may take time for your concentration and reflexes to return to normal. Some people are ready to return to normal activity sooner than others. Do not have vaginal intercourse until after you have been examined at your check-up.
Make sure that you have an appointment to see your doctor for a six week check-up.
Visiting the Recovery Room
While visitors are generally restricted in the Recovery Room, there are exceptions. Our space is very limited and often very busy and this is the reason we restrict visiting. We realize that families are anxious, but we need to meet everyone's needs while maintaining privacy and confidentiality.
Nausea (an upset stomach)
Nausea, or an upset stomach, is a common side effect of surgery. Medication to help control your nausea will be given to you in the Operating Room and if necessary in the Recovery Room. However, many patients experience nausea after discharge. It would be helpful to buy some Gravol¨ from the drugstore before your surgery. Gravol¨ comes in suppository or oral form. If you continue to be very nauseated after your operation, the suppositories may be a better choice. Check with your pharmacist to see if there is any reason why you should not take this drug. If you do have nausea, try not to get sick - just breath very gently and slowly until the nausea passes. Try not to make yourself sick - this will only prolong the nausea. If you are traveling a distance, you may wish to put a pillow and blanket in the car so you will be more comfortable from the Health Centre to home.
Approximately 375 breast surgeries will be performed annually at the IWK, with approximately 3,000 visits to the Breast Health Clinic.