It can take a few weeks to recover from mastectomy or longer if the patient is also undergoing a reconstruction, says Breastcancer.org. Hospital stays average three days or less but the recovery period continues at home, with regular follow-up visits to the clinic to ensure proper healing.
Mastectomy surgeries vary widely, and may include a full or partial removal of the breast or both breasts; removal of the lymph nodes in the armpit area; and reconstruction of the breast immediately after surgery, says Mayo Clinic. Patients who undergo reconstructive surgery following mastectomy can expect to stay in the hospital a few extra days.
Immediately after undergoing surgery, the patient's vital signs are monitored in a recovery room, and when she is stable she is moved to a hospital room to rest, says Mayo Clinic. During the in-hospital recovery period, she learns to take care of the wound, drainage devices and dressings. Pain medication and antibiotics may be administered.
During the recovery period, a woman who has undergone a mastectomy can do a series of exercises that help prevent the formation of scar tissue and arm and shoulder stiffness on the side of the body that had the surgery, says eMedicinehealth.com. Non-dissolving stitches are typically removed about a week after surgery and wound drainage devices are removed within two weeks.