Packing your hospital bag for mastectomy or oophorectomy surgery

20 Aug 2021

Below is a suggested list of things to pack for your hospital stay for your mastectomy/oophorectomy surgery: 

  • Medications and vitamins that you are currently taking.
  • Throat lozenges (especially for when you first come out of theatre).
  • Lip balm/Chapstick as your lips tend to dry out after surgery.
  • Dry shampoo (keeps you hair presentable for one or two more days).
  • Facial wipes (the first few days after a mastectomy it is hard to lean over a sink and wash your face). Perfume and some make up such as mascara and lip gloss (it will make you feel better).
  • Mobile phone and charger.
  • Headphones and charger.
  • Laptop/iPad and charger (useful to have some movies downloaded).
  • Webcam so you can Skype with family and friends.
  • Camera and charger (if you want to document your surgery).
  • Notepad and pen (to record your days/journey).
  • Books and magazines (although you may find that you don’t have the concentration for a book).
  • Drink bottle with a nozzle so you can drink lying down without spillage.
  • Healthy snacks
  • Soft and comfortable clothes and pyjamas such as loose t shirts, hoodies (or cardigan), dressing gown (or just wear a second surgical gown back to front to give you coverage at the back), tracksuit pants (not tight as they need to be easy to pull up). Some people like to get dressed as it makes them feel better. Just remember there will be wound/drain checking so you need something that can be stretched or undone and done up again easily.
  • Slippers or slip-on shoes (for going for a walk around the ward).
  • Wrap or large scarf for when you are sitting in a chair (the hospital blankets are heavy) or to put around your arms for warmth when you are sitting up in bed. 

Other tried and tested tips

  • Wash and blow dry your hair and get your nails done (no polish) before you are admitted (remember it will be difficult to lift your arms after a mastectomy so having hair freshly done is a good idea and if you have long hair tie it in a knot on the top of your head or have two pigtail plaits – nothing on the back/ base of your head/neck as it will hurt after a while from laying on it).
  • Some people like to take their own pillows or the U-shaped pillows (I suggest see how you go and get family to bring them in if you need them).
  • Remember to put laptops, ipads etc. in a drawer when you are sleeping or going for a walk.
  • Drink lots of water, go for gentle walks (once you are given the ok) and do your physio exercises (they do help).
  • Rest as much as possible (don’t over do it).
  • Limit the number and length of visitors (be prepared to say ‘no’ and ‘thanks for visiting but I need a nap now’).