Uni mastectomy with axillary (underarm) lymph node dissection.
They did it "outpatient" style, where I got to go home the same day after nurses assured I was awake enough after anesthesia wore off and there were no complications. Since I had an empty stomach, the usual nausea effects weren't bad. They'd also given me anti-nausea meds. I couldn't go home to my boat, but stayed at mom's. She helped me with the attached surgical drain (it has to be emptied twice daily). I was surprised that there was little pain. For the first two days, I felt sore and tender in that area.
There are inner stitches of the dissolving kind and outer titanium metal stitches. The metal has shown to see faster healing and the skin doesn't stick; it doesn't hurt when they're removed. It just looks creepy and there is a psychological aversion many have about metal "staples" clamped in their skin. I think it's gross and badass at the same time. They don't hurt unless I push on them. The stitch area and the spot where the drain tube enters the skin are kept slathered with antibiotic goo and the doc gave me antibiotics to take.
This is Day 3 after surgery. I had to wear a compression garment. It was tight and uncomfortable. Had two days of insomnia, a common effect after surgery. Gah!
Here is a close up of the single drain tube and bulb the doc installs during the surgery. This is so the lymph fluid has a place to go. The body's tissues have been cut and disturbed so the normal flow of lymph is screwed up for a bit. Instead of letting it accumulate and inflame the surgical site, the fluid is given the chance to drain.
The amount of time one is stuck with this yukky but necessary thing varies. Despite being active and drinking tons of fluid (and sneaking the occasional beer), there was very little fluid to empty daily. My clinic's standard is to check it at day ten and remove it if the fluid amount is below a certain volume.
The drain tube is in the skin a few inches below the underarm. For the most part, I don't feel it unless I mess with it. Early on, there were occasional twinges and pinching feelings. After a few days, it itched once and a while. I could feel it there and was eager to get it out and have that irritated area of skin heal. It does hurt if it's tugged on (so, duh, no tugging!)
Day 3. I had to peek under the wrapping. It was soooo tight I couldn't take a deep breath. Oh uck, no more boob on that side.
Day 3, Peeking under the wrap. Oh...wow.... Sorry I did!!
Day 7. Getting Active Again!
The surgeon really knows his thing and did such a fabulous job that I'm healing well. I was released to go back to work today, light duty stuff, and no heavy lifting over ten pounds. And no golf, but I don't know how to play golf so I'm not disappointed. Got the green light to resume normal activity within limits. The surgical drain is hidden under my shirt and the wrapping protects the stitch area and keeps it clean.
A nature walk with Neil was the perfect medicine. Mild exercise helps with healing and keeps the body healthy. Didn't have the usual stamina, but a gradual increase in activity will help. It will also be better once that drain system is out and the stitch area heals. The trick is to not over stress that spot until the skin really mends. This takes many weeks I hear.
Day 9 post surgery, had another follow up appointment with the surgeon and his really cool nurse. I got lucky since healing was going well, so the nurse removed the drain and bulb. OH!! What a bizarre, painful sensation having that long bit if rubber tubing pulled out from under my skin. The burning feeling abated after a few hours. Half of my titanium metal stitches were removed and the nurse used a special tool. Removal didnt hurt, but there were a few mild twinges when legs of a couple of the staples pushed the skin. It was nothing like removing the drain!
Two weeks after surgery. Area is sore but not painful. Each day I can raise my right arm a little higher...
Five weeks: Have full range of motion, but still have to mind the internal stitches. They don't hurt, but I can feel them if I reach behind me.