The below question is answered by Chris Murakami RN, CNOR, & Christina Hobgood Naugle, PA-C, of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction.
I am having a SGAP breast reconstruction in a few weeks. Do I need to buy post op surgical bras? If so, which kind and can I get a prescription for insurance purposes? Also, I heard people use various bras / camisoles with pockets for drains. Have you heard of those or think they are helpful? Do you think button down shirts are something I need to get? Anything else?
No need to buy any special bra, vest, or camisole in advance. Our hospital, East Cooper Regional Medical Center, provides a soft cotton vest with drain pockets as well as a surgical bra that acts as a post operative surgical dressing. Let them know if you feel like you need an extra for when you leave the hospital and they are great about sharing another with you.
Absolutely, I would make sure I had button down shirts and loose clothing that you can easily get in and out of. You’ll have some limitation of lifting your arms above your head so button down shirts are easiest to get on and off without lifting your arms. Some women choose to wear loose sundresses; others track suit pants or cotton shorts. Whatever you are comfortable in is fine, but keep in mind we won’t want you wearing anything right away that could potentially put any pressure on your suture lines.
Here are more helpful hints:
If you are having a DIEP breast reconstruction, abdominal swelling limits clothing choices. Wear loose-fitting garments to the hospital. Women should avoid fitted, zippered pants and skirts because they probably won’t zip when it’s time to leave. Even clothing with snug elastic waistbands may be uncomfortable. A loose chemise or drop waist dress or jumper is a good choice.
Slacks or skirts with elastic in the back and a smooth band in the front may be slightly more comfortable than those with a totally elastic waistband.
Consider clothing that doesn’t wrinkle easily. Resting and naps are necessary while recuperating.
Cotton underwear breathes and is absorbent and comfortable next to the skin. Cotton’s fiber ends help the fabric stand away from the sensitive incision area rather than hug it, as some textured, synthetic fabrics do. If you don’t already have cotton briefs, buy a pair a size larger than your normal size. A little extra room adds comfort during recuperation. For waistline incisions, bikini cut styles may be better, while full cut panties and shorts might be preferred for incisions in the lower abdomen and buttocks.
Loose-fitting nightgowns and nightshirts are comfortable, especially when made from absorbent, breathable cotton or cotton-blends. If you prefer pajamas, select those with drawstrings. Elastic waists may be less comfortable for some people depending on swelling, tenderness, and location of incision. Sweatpants or crew pants are a comfortable change from bed wear, especially those with drawstrings, which allow some flexibility at the waistline.
Flat soled shoes that slip on your feet rather than tie are great to have, too, as you may be limited in your ability to bend over and tie your shoes.
If you do need to have a special bra after your incision lines have healed, we are happy to provide a prescription. We’ve had lots of our patients rave about Nordstrom’s for post mastectomy bras. Not only do the kind folks there provide a professional fitting for mastectomy patients, but they also handle the insurance paperwork for you too!
—Chris Murakami RN, CNOR, & Christina Hobgood Naugle, PA-C
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