Mastectomy and axilla lymph node removal

I am having a pre op on 21st and a left breast mastectomy and lymph nodes from armpit out on 28th as they have cancer too. If anyone on here could tell me what pre op entails and also what happens when your breast is removed I would be so grateful. I can't have reconstruction for at least 12 months, I'm not sure why but radiotherapy is going to happen. I've been on Letrozole and Palbociclib for 9 months as my surgeon couldn't remove the tumour close to my chest wall and these wonderful drugs have shrunk them enough for surgery. I just want someone who has gone through this to give me tips and advice please?

  • I'm not sure why your question has got missed. I can't help because I didn't have a mastectomy but by answering here, your question will go back up the list and someone should hopefully see it.

    I hope both op's go well. It's great news that the drugs you have taken have done the great job of shrinking your tumour. Take Karen 

    1. I
  • Hi. I had my pre-op yesterday for the same thing, only right mastectomy with lymph node clearance with surgery scheduled for the 29th. Pre-op is no big deal. You will answer what feels like 100 questions about your general health, any health conditions and concerns, what medications you are on, allergies, height, weight, blood pressure. They will take blood to run tests to check your liver and kidney function and make sure all your blood chemistry is in range. Some hospitals might have you pee in a cup (just for fun I guess). You will probably have an electrocardiogram (ECG) and in my case due to a congenital heart arrhythmia, a heart echo (ultrasound of the heart valves).  I will have a Covid test 3 days before the surgery and then isolate at home after it until the surgery because you don't want to catch Covid the day before your surgery!   

    All of this is for anaesthesia. They want to be sure you are healthy enough to be asleep for the length of time of the surgery. To be sure your kidneys and liver can clear it out of your body effectively. The amount of medication you are given is based on height and weight. The types of medications you are given are with an eye toward your allergies and tolerances from previous surgeries. . The anaesthesiologist will make sure your pain and nausea is under control, so now is not the time to be shy.  Now is the time to ask questions about the anaesthesia and recovery; that is what this visit is all about.  

    I am not sure what questions you have about the mastectomy part. Do you mean the actual physical removal of the breast tissue or what happens after you wake up. You can scare yourself if you google it and are not prepared for in color surgery photos so that might be something to consider. As for afterward, you will have to ask your Breast Care nurse or wait until someone who knows more about the after part comes on and can answer that for you. I'll be interested to see what they say myself. 

    Good luck to us both. I'm having my surgery in Edinburgh. Wouldn't it be funny if we were in the same hospital? 

    We can do this!


  • Hi, I had my mastectomy, left side and auxiliary clearance on Wednesday, came out this afternoon for r and  r at my daughters for a few days. It is much less painful than I anticipated thankfully. My advice would be to take button or zipped tops, front fastening bras and a small pillow for under the arm, I found heart shaped the most comfortable.  I struggled a bit moving with the drain, scared of pulling it. Then this morning the breast nurse gave me a small tote bag to put it in....amazing difference, I can now move freely and it doesn't pull the drain like holding it did, I feel liberated!!  My daughter was so surprised to see how well I looked and  hadn't expected me to be my usual bouncy self. Take regular painkillers, paracetamol is fine but ask for stronger when needed, I needed codeine last night a and this morning but fine with paracetamol this afternoon. The nurse will arrange for a district nurse to see you when you're back home to check dressings and drain. I get my results in 2 weeks time. You can ring breast clinic, ward or district nurse for any after care advice. I found it difficult to sleep last night as I sleep on my side, I'm going to try sleeping in a comfy chair tonight instead. Ask for help when you need it,rest and keep on top of pain relief. Good luck, you've got this x 

  • Hi

    I had left mastectomy and node removal last Thursday and home the same day with no drains. I went back two days ago for dressing change. 

    Pre op a general health check as detailed already and was given MRSA wash  to use 5 days  before you go in, and details about fasting the day before etc. 

    I took a soft crop top bra in and baggy tshirt something easy to pop on. I'd bought a v shape pillow which has been great to help sleep, which for a couple of night has been sitting up really.

    The biggest piece of advice is move, sitting makes me stiffen up and harder to move arm. I've done the exercises every couple of hours and have really seen a difference in u der a week. I've gone for short walks every day and manage light house work with ease

    Wish you welll for your op, x

  • Hi cupboardlove, Jens friends on FaceBook will send you a free mastectomy pillow, you just pay p&p, they are heart shaped, and fit right under your arm pit, they help keep your arm away from your side, making it more comfy, sitting in a chair, in bed you can put the cushion under the arm, and use it in the car under the seat belt to protect the surgery area….I used mine so much.

    you may find sleeping in a chair more comfy if you have drains, I couldn’t get comfy with the V pillow, so slept in a recliner chair untill the drains where taken out …  x

    Out of darkness cometh light

  • oh gosh you are the day after me!! I'm in North Wales so no chance of meeting up! I just wondered what we look like with one breast off...we will know soon enough. I'm eating my feelings and very chubby and am 40 DD so having one big boob for 12 months will be horrible, but I'm being vain I know. 

    Thank you so very much for your wonderful words of wisdom, please let's keep in touch!! xx

  • Oh gosh thank you so much for your lovely reply. Fingers crossed everything is fine for you in 2 weeks!! please keep in touch x

  • Thank you so much for the lovely reply and advice. I hope you are doing well on the road to recovery xx

  • Hey there, sorry to hear you are having a mastectomy. I had mine 3 weeks ago. It’s all very surreal. Im not gonna lie the first time I looked at the empty space I was shocked but my scar has healed so well, I’m actually getting used to it! I’m thinking I’m going to stay flat as I couldn’t have reconstruction with fillet due to me having had radiotherapy which changes the texture of your breast and it then doesn’t stretch well. I just didn’t think the major recons were for me! It’s not to say I won’t change my mind further down the line. The v shape pillow is a godsend for sleeping! My bcn gave me one just after op.  Pre op I had to have dye injected into my breast for surgeon to be guided to lymph nodes(that’s what I understand!) but it was fine. Wishing you all the best for your op. I honestly didn’t have much pain. I’ve had a hip replacement which was much worse. It’s the emotional side of this is the worst. Thinking of you xx


  • Hi cupboardlove 

    • I'm 7 weeks out from bilateral mastectomy the surgery is fine and all the prep before dye and biopsys . Like Whitestar says it's really not as challenging as other surgeries I have had,  like hysterectomy and  caesarean section. I'm not having any reconstruction I have had enough and faux boobs are looking quite nice! The scar is not pretty and my arm after clearance on one side is a bit numb . But the other side not so bad as only had 3 out on that side. 

    Take care X