Discharge Instructions for Prophylactic Mastectomy

Prophylactic mastectomy is surgery to remove one or both breasts. This is done to prevent or reduce the risk for breast cancer. There are several reasons women choose this surgery. You talked with your healthcare provider about these reasons before your surgery. Here's what you need to do at home following this surgery.


Be sure you understand what you can and can't do as you recover from surgery.

  • Ask your friends or family to help with chores and errands while you recover.

  • Don’t lift anything heavy until your healthcare provider says it's OK.

  • Don’t push a vacuum or do other active or strenuous housework until your healthcare provider says it’s OK.

  • Do the range-of-motion exercises that you learned in the hospital.


Other home care

Here are suggestions for taking care of yourself at home:

  • Take pain relievers as directed by your healthcare provider.

  • Check your cut (incision) daily for signs of redness, swelling, or separation of the skin.

  • Follow your healthcare provider's instructions about bathing or showering, as long as your incision isn’t draining, swelling, or red:

    • Wash your incision gently with mild soap and warm water, if your healthcare provider says it's OK. Pat dry.

    • Keep your incision clean and dry.

    • Don’t soak in a tub, hot tub, or pool until your healthcare provider says it’s OK.

  • Check your temperature every day for 1 week after your surgery.

  • Return to your normal diet as you feel able. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your healthcare provider. You may also want to make an appointment to talk to someone about reconstructive surgery or breast prostheses.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever above 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider 

  • Chills

  • Drainage from your incision

  • Swelling around your incision

  • Increasing pain in or around your incision

  • Swelling in your arm or hand on the surgery side

  • Any other concerns

Know what problems to watch for and when you need to call your healthcare provider or nurse. Know what number to call to get help after office hours and on weekends and holidays.