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Personal Care

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Showering or bathing

You may shower 24 to 48 hours after your surgery unless you’re told not to.

Having a bath in a small amount of water or showering is usually okay while you still have staples, stitches, Steri-Strips, or sticky dressings.

You may shower with your drain. It’s important to hold the tubing of the drain in place while you’re in the shower so it’s not pulling against your skin. You can do this by wearing a cloth belt around your waist and securing the drain to the belt with a safety pin while you’re in the shower.

You can get your incision(s) wet. But:

  • When you shower, stand so that the water isn’t falling right on your incision.
  • When you bathe, don’t put your incision(s) under the water.

Rinse the incision area well, and gently pat it dry. The area around the incision(s) may be numb so you may not be able to feel if the water is too hot. Use warm, not hot water, so you don’t get a burn.

Don’t clean your incision with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. When your incisions are healed (at least 2 weeks), you may use an unscented lotion. If you have an incision under your arm, don’t use deodorant until the incision is healed. These products may irritate healing tissue.

Shaving

If you have an incision under your arm, don’t shave your armpit or use hair removal products on your surgery side, until your skin has completely healed.

You may have less feeling in the armpit area, so you need to be careful when shaving so you don’t cut yourself. Cuts could put you at higher risk of infection.

Clothing

Loose-fitting shirts or sleepwear that open in the front will be easiest to put on and take off. Department or specialty stores that sell prosthetics may also sell mastectomy camisoles, but buying one is your choice.

For the first few days after breast conserving surgery, you may need to wear a supportive bra for comfort even when you sleep. Don’t wear tight-fitting or underwire bras.​

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