When facing the prospect of undergoing any type of breast surgery, there are a few items you’ll want to have on hand to make your recovery process easier and the item topping the list is a mastectomy pillow.
If you’re wondering what the difference is when it comes to a mastectomy pillow vs a standard pillow, read on, and we’ll explain all the benefits of a mastectomy pillow for healing after breast cancer surgery, lumpectomy, or breast reconstruction.
What Does a Mastectomy Pillow Do?
Often called a ‘comfort pillow’, the main purpose of a mastectomy pillow is to provide a sense of ease to patients while they heal. Finding a relaxing position while healing can be difficult when coping with breast and underarm incisions, as well as surgical drains, and that is where mastectomy pillows help magnificently.
Specifically designed to protect your surgical incisions and tender surgical sites while you sleep, sit, move about the house, or drive your car, mastectomy pillows are different from your standard everyday pillow.
Mastectomy Pillow vs Standard Pillow: What’s the Difference?
With an exclusive focus on providing relief to breast surgery patients, mastectomy pillows are not the same as a standard sleeping pillow or couch cushion.
- Firstly, mastectomy pillows are lighter than a standard pillow or cushion, meaning the weight against your incisions and sore surgical sites is not too heavy or imposing.
- Structurally, mastectomy pillows are designed to fit seamlessly. Whether they are lying gently on the chest to allow for gentle hugs from your loved ones, fitting perfectly under the arms to prevent lymph node incisions from rubbing against the chest, providing a comforting barrier between the weight of a seatbelt, or allowing the shoulders to bear the weight of cold therapy packs instead of the chest, mastectomy pillows just feel better and allow patients to heal more safely.
- The outer fabric of mastectomy pillows is typically a very soft fleece-like material that feels soothing against the skin in comparison to standard pillow cases.
- Depending on the type of mastectomy pillow, many come with strategically placed Velcro straps to keep them in place.
- Hygiene-wise, mastectomy pillows are smaller and easier to wash after a couple of days of use. The best mastectomy pillows are made with a removable protective fabric that can be washed and dried in a much shorter time than a standard pillow.
- The top-rated post-surgery mastectomy pillows have cleverly placed pockets to hold gel packs for cold and heat therapy, as well as pockets to hold your phone and TV remotes.
Types of Mastectomy Pillows
Even though they come in a variety of types and sizes, the best mastectomy pillows all bear the same purpose, in that, each of them is designed to provide post-surgery comfort and relieve pressure from surgical incisions during the healing process.
Post-Surgery Mastectomy Pillow
Consisting of three soft pillows encompassed in a gentle, non-irritating fabric, post-surgery mastectomy pillows are designed to feel like a warm and comforting hug for your chest and underarms.
Equipped with adjustable shoulder straps the center pillow lays gently across the chest to soothe and protect the surgical sites. The smaller pillows attached on either side slip comfortably under the arms to prevent any rubbing against the sides of the chest as well as safeguarding underarm incisions if lymph nodes were removed.
Here at Intimate Rose, we have also incorporated conveniently placed pockets to the post-surgery mastectomy pillows for holding phones, TV remotes, and gel packs for hot and cold therapy.
Mastectomy Pillows for Breast Tissue Expanders
In addition to offering comfort and relief to women who have undergone a single or double mastectomy, the post-surgery mastectomy pillow from Intimate Rose is also ideal for women with tissue expanders in place during breast reconstruction. Not only do they provide a sense of security in front of the chest these comforting pillows also offer a way of relieving tight chest muscles from tissue expanders.
Because tissue expanders are used to gently stretch the chest muscles and skin when creating space for breast implants, an uncomfortable tightness can occur in the chest area for a few days after each expansion. As well as the comfort of knowing their surgical sites are protected, several breast reconstruction patients have reported feeling a huge relief from cold and heat therapy as long as it is not directly applied to the skin or on top of thin bandages.
With a post-surgery mastectomy pillow that has conveniently placed pockets to hold gel packs, cold and heat therapy can be much more comfortably placed to relieve the tightness from breast tissue expanders.
Mastectomy Arm Pillow
A mastectomy arm pillow is the perfect healing aid for women who have undergone a single mastectomy or lumpectomy. As well as the chest area, the underarm muscles will also feel tight and somewhat painful for 6-8 weeks after a mastectomy, especially if your surgeon removed lymph nodes via the armpit. While you heal, it is incredibly comforting to have something soft and soothing placed between the breast and the armpit.
Although you might think a home cushion could serve the same purpose, mastectomy arm pillows are produced in the perfect size and width to fit comfortably under the arm without having to engage any muscles to keep it in place. In addition to offering soothing comfort, a mastectomy arm pillow prevents incisions from rubbing against clothing, allowing them to heal without the risk of infection.
Double Mastectomy Pillow
For double mastectomy patients, the post-surgery mastectomy pillow is by far the best option. Rather than trying to keep two arm pillows in place at the same time, the post-surgery mastectomy pillow from Intimate Rose spreads gently across the chest and slips seamlessly under each arm to protect both tender areas and incisions.
It also includes adjustable shoulder straps that keep excess weight on the shoulders while you walk around instead of the chest, neck, or upper back. The adjustable straps also make it easier to slip the pillow onto the front of the body instead of raising the arms, which is not recommended after breast surgery.
Mastectomy Seat Belt Pillow
Another excellent choice of pillow for breast surgery recovery is the mastectomy seat belt pillow. Essential for your ride home from the hospital, and any ride in the car for up to eight weeks after surgery, a mastectomy seat belt pillow gives you a comfortable barrier to protect surgical incisions from the pressure of a seat belt.
You might assume that any small pillow from home could be slipped under your seat belt for the same purpose but you’ll more than likely find that it doesn’t stay in place very well and this will result in the seatbelt hurting your chest.
In contrast, the Velcro straps attached to a mastectomy seat belt pillow from Intimate Rose, not only keep the pillow in place it also means you can leave the pillow attached to the seatbelt for the duration of your recovery.
Because seatbelts typically only sit against one side of the chest, mastectomy seat belt pillows are perfect for protecting women who have undergone all types of breast surgery, including a single or double mastectomy, lumpectomy, and breast reconstruction.
Mastectomy Breast Pillow
Mastectomy breast pillows are a great way to support the rebalancing of weight in the chest muscles after a lumpectomy or breast reconstruction. These half-moon-shaped pillows with cut-outs for each breast offer support under the breasts, allowing chest muscles to relax and heal without bearing the complete weight.
Typically made from a soft fabric, they won’t aggravate the skin and offer support when lying down or sitting up.
Although the following pillows are not specifically related to mastectomy recovery, they are both incredibly beneficial for the healing process after breast surgery.
For the first weeks after surgery, your surgeon will instruct you to lay on your back, with the head and shoulders elevated to reduce strain on the chest muscles and prevent you from rolling onto your surgical drains while sleeping. During the first few days, many mastectomy patients recommend sleeping in a reclining chair to avoid the pain of lying down and getting up. However, after 5-6 days you will feel comfortable enough to return to your bed, and this is where the wedge pillow comes in.
A wedge pillow can effectively prop the upper body into a slightly elevated position to stop you from rolling onto sore incisions or surgical drains during sleep. They also help with lower back pain that can arise from lying down all day during recovery. By slipping a wedge pillow under the knees the spine can relax and lower back pain is relieved.
These U-shaped neck pillows are more recognizable as travel pillows that most people take on a plane, but they are also beneficial for mastectomy patients. Neck muscles can get tight due to the extra strain on chest muscles and feel much better with some support from a neck pillow. They are also comfortable when sleeping or napping in an upright position during the first few days post-surgery.
Additional Mastectomy Must-Haves
In addition to the comfort of mastectomy pillows and a positive attitude, there are a few more essential items that will help your post-mastectomy recovery. Ideally, these are things you would organize before going to the hospital for surgery so that when you return home, everything you need is there for you.
Click here for our extensive list of everything you’ll need to recuperate and recover from breast surgery.
If you’re thinking of using a standard pillow instead of a mastectomy pillow during recovery after breast surgery, you might want to think again. Designed by women’s health experts, with the specific task of providing comfort and relief in all the right places, mastectomy pillows will most certainly make your healing process easier after breast surgery.
From post-surgery care to underarm comfort, relieving the pressure of seatbelts, and supporting the upper body during sleep, a mastectomy pillow provides comfort in the places that mastectomy patients need it most.
Checklist For Recovery After Mastectomy - https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/blog/checklist-for-recovery-after-mastectomy/
What Happens After Breast Surgery - https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/surgery/after-surgery/what-happens-after-surgery
Verywell Health – 10 Pillows to Use for Comfort During Breast Cancer Treatment and Recovery - https://www.verywellhealth.com/comfort-pillows-breast-cancer-recovery-430551
National Library of Medicine – Exploring Women’s Support Needs After Breast Reconstruction Surgery - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6392201/