Mastectomy is a form of breast cancer treatment which involves surgically removing the breast (either whole or partially). It is also used as a preventative measure if there is a chance of developing breast cancer in the future. If both breasts are removed it is called a double mastectomy.
Exercise is an important part of recovery and rehabilitation following this type of surgery. Exercise aims to regain range of motion, function and strength through the upper body where surgery was performed. Exercise following surgery should be a top priority to ensure maximal recovery and return to normal function.
Generally, exercise can start in the days following surgery while you are in hospital. These should be very basic movements to help increase blood flow and minimise discomfort. These are to be completed under the strict instruction and guidance of a health professional on your ward.
Over time, exercise should progress to focus on improving range of motion and tightness through the chest, shoulders and back. It is important to regain range of motion as symptoms and rate of recovery permits. Try to use your affected side to brush your hair, put on make-up and complete light tasks. This will slowly help to engage those upper limb muscles and promote recovery and healing.
Once range of motion and general function has returned, the focus should now be on building strength and endurance. This is important for returning to full function around your house, in your job and will help to improve quality of life overall. These exercises will be very dependent on the patient, the exact surgery completed and any other health concerns that may be present.
When considering your rehabilitation following surgery, it is important to find an exercise professional who can guide you through the proper steps of rehabilitation to ensure a steady and uncomplicated recovery. Talk to your GP or surgeon for a suitable referral. Over time, it is possible to return to normal function, it will just take time and a good rehabilitation program.