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Mastectomy alone is less invasive than mastectomy with breast reconstruction, and recovery is usually quicker, less uncomfortable and less likely to develop infection or other post-op complications that sometimes occur after reconstruction. Some women go home from the hospital the same day; most remain in the hospital overnight. Because nerves are severed when breast tissue is removed, most of your chest will initially be numb and may feel heavy. You may feel a pulling sensation under your arms as you recover; this will improve as your chest heals. Prescribed medication will control your initial pain and discomfort; you can then use over-the-counter medication as needed. Your doctor will recommend gentle exercises or refer you to a physical therapist to restore range of motion, decrease discomfort or improve healing.
You’ll gradually feel better and be able to do more. We all heal differently, but typically, most women are back to their normal activities in 2 to 4 weeks. Your own recovery may be somewhat shorter or longer, depending on how you heal. It's important to wait for clearance from your surgeon before resuming exercise and other activities and to allow enough recovery time for your body to fully heal.
Losing your breasts can also take an emotional toll. If you have difficulty accepting your new normal, be sure to talk to a trusted friend, counselor or other women who have had mastectomy to help you work through what you’re feeling.