Chest Reconstruction Surgery Tips

Chest Reconstruction Surgery Tips

The following are tips for people who are planning to get double incision bilateral chest reconstructive surgery.  You will want to get these items before surgery and have them ready for use before you leave that day.

Large safety pins (4-6).

This type of surgery typically requires the insertion of drains into the chest to drain fluid for the first week after surgery and the wearing of a compression vest.  Tubes stick out of holes under each arm and end in drain bottles.  You’ll want to pin your drain bottles to your vest to keep them stationary. You can pin the tubes going from your body to the drains as well – up high – because when they hang low, it’s possible to catch them on something.

Loofah on a LONG handle.

Reaching your shoulders, upper arms, and back is painful for a while after surgery and stretching your arms too far can result in stretching and worsening your incision scars.  A loofah or brush on a long handle (or a friend to wash your back) will make your life much easier.

Bendable straws.

The first couple of days you’ll want to lie around and rest a lot. Straws will prevent you from having to strain forward when drinking something. (Be sure to drink plenty of fluids after surgery.)

Baby wipes.

You won’t be able to fully bathe for a while, so these will help you feel cleaner during the first few days after surgery.

Button-down shirts.

You won’t be able to pull anything over your head for at least a week. Don’t even try, because you can easily tear newly-growing tissue, which can lead to worse scarring. You need to be very careful! Take all button-down shirts, and continue to wear them when you return home for a while.

Slip-on shoes.

These will make the first couple of days after surgery easier. Loafers, flip-flops, something you don’t have to bend for.


Immediately after surgery you might be too swollen to fit into the jeans you wore that morning. You might need something loose to wear at first.


If it’s difficult for you to get in and out of the tub using only your leg muscles, this will be more difficult following surgery. Baby wipes can assist you in cleaning yourself until you can bathe. If you can perform the acrobatics, only fill the tub 2-3 inches – you don’t want to get the top half of your body wet at all.


You can run the shower water pointing straight down and on low-force and bend over enough just to wet and wash your hair without getting your vest wet.


Rent a small fridge to keep in your hotel room. [Better yet, get a room that already has one and a microwave.] Eating out three times a day gets expensive! With a fridge you can store milk and cereal and knock out buying breakfast. You can also store fruit, fruit juice, and water. You want to drink LOTS of water before and after surgery.


DON’T plan to do a lot of walking the first few days after surgery, no matter how good you feel. Even if you feel great, the surgery is a lot of trauma for your body to recover from. LOTS OF REST is your goal.


Your going to be spending a day or two on your back in bed, so you might want to bring some books or rent some DVDs to watch in your hotel room. This can keep you in the resting position at least some of the time!