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Physiotherapy After Mastectomy (with or without breast reconstruction)

Updated: Feb 20

Mastectomy is carried out to treat breast cancer, where surgeons generally remove the entire breast. There are many types of mastectomies. Depending on your genetic history or the size of your tumor and its spread or even the size of your breast, surgeons will then recommend the type of mastectomy to treat the cancer or prevent cancer from occurring.

In some surgeries, other structures besides the breast tissue will be removed. This include the nipple, colored ring around the nipple (called the areola), lymph nodes in the axilla (arm pit) region and muscle tissue underneath the breast (chest muscles).

In most cases, breast reconstruction is done after a mastectomy to rebuild the size and shape so that it is similar to your other breast. Some people may decide to use prosthetics, design their own bras or simply leave it as it is. It is entirely your own choice.

Post-surgery care is important as you are healing. There will be short-term swelling, soreness, redness around surgical site, scarring as wound heals, pulling sensation under or in the arm, shoulder stiffness, numbness or tingling in the affected area or swelling in the arm (lymphedema) if lymph nodes were removed.

You don't have to suffer in silence. You can receive help!

Physiotherapy treatment may include:

  • Managing scar tissue to prevent adhesions and improve shoulder range of motion

  • Managing axillary web syndrome ("cording")

  • Restoring shoulder mobility with range of motion, stretches and strengthening

  • Managing seromas/ lymphedema

  • Providing specific advice and guidance on long-term care (postural education, ergonomics, compression garment prescription etc. )

Watch this video to find out more about managing scar tissues by Physio Jolyn:

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