Mastectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of one or both breasts, usually to treat or prevent breast cancer. While mastectomy can be a life-saving procedure, it can also be physically and emotionally challenging for the patient. Massage therapy can provide a gentle and effective form of healing for women who have undergone mastectomy. In this article, we will explore the benefits of massage after mastectomy, considerations and precautions, and techniques used in post-mastectomy massage.
Definition of Mastectomy
Mastectomy is a surgical procedure in which one or both breasts are removed. This procedure is often used to treat or prevent breast cancer. There are several types of mastectomy, including simple or total mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy, and radical mastectomy. In a simple or total mastectomy, the entire breast is removed, while in a modified radical mastectomy, both the breast and the underarm lymph nodes are removed. In a radical mastectomy, the breast, underarm lymph nodes, and chest muscles are removed.
Benefits of Massage After Mastectomy
Massage therapy promotes proper healing and recovery following a mastectomy operation. It is recommended to wait about 2 weeks after surgery before your first massage. However, this may vary depending on your surgeon’s or doctor’s orders and advice.
Massage therapy can provide many benefits for women who have undergone mastectomy. These benefits include:
- Pain Relief: Massage can help to relieve pain and discomfort in the chest, shoulder, and arm that often accompanies a mastectomy.
- Improved Range of Motion: Massage can help to improve the range of motion in the shoulder and arm, which can be limited after mastectomy.
- Reduced Swelling: Massage can help to reduce swelling in the arm, a condition known as lymphedema, which can occur after mastectomy.
- Relaxation: Massage can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation, which can be beneficial for women who have undergone mastectomy.
- Scar Tissue Management: Massage can help to break down scar tissue and improve the appearance and flexibility of the scar.
Considerations and Precautions
While massage therapy can be beneficial for women who have undergone a mastectomy, there are certain considerations and precautions that should be taken to ensure safety and comfort. It is important to find a massage therapist who is experienced in post-mastectomy massage and who understands the unique needs of these patients.
One of the main considerations is the timing of the massage. It is generally recommended to wait at least 4-6 weeks after surgery before beginning massage therapy. This allows for proper healing and reduces the risk of complications.
The massage therapist should also take into account any lymphedema or other complications that the patient may have. Lymphedema is a common side effect of mastectomy, and massage therapy can help to reduce swelling and improve lymphatic drainage. However, the therapist must be careful not to apply too much pressure or use techniques that could exacerbate the condition.
While massage therapy can be beneficial for women who have undergone a mastectomy, there are some considerations and precautions that should be taken. These include:
Timing: It is important to wait until the incision has fully healed before receiving massage therapy. This usually takes 4-6 weeks after surgery.
- Positioning: The massage therapist should avoid putting pressure on the chest area and should use a side-lying or seated position for the massage.
- Pressure: The massage therapist should use gentle pressure and avoid deep tissue massage on the affected side.
- Lymphedema: If the patient has lymphedema, the massage therapist should use special techniques to reduce swelling and improve lymphatic flow.
- Medical Clearance: It is important to obtain medical clearance from the patient’s healthcare provider before receiving massage therapy after mastectomy.
It is also important to communicate openly with the massage therapist about any discomfort or pain during the session. The therapist can adjust the pressure and technique to ensure the patient’s comfort and safety.
Techniques Used in Post-Mastectomy Massage
Massage therapists use a variety of techniques in post-mastectomy massage, depending on the individual needs of the patient. Some common techniques include:
- Lymphatic drainage massage: This technique involves gentle, rhythmic movements that help to stimulate lymphatic flow and reduce swelling. The therapist may use light pressure and circular movements to encourage the movement of lymphatic fluid.
- Scar tissue massage: After mastectomy surgery, there may be scar tissue that forms in the area. Scar tissue massage involves gentle, circular movements that help to break up adhesions and improve mobility.
- Trigger point therapy: Trigger points are areas of muscle that are tender to the touch and can cause pain and discomfort. Trigger point therapy involves applying pressure to these points to release tension and improve range of motion.
- Myofascial release: This technique involves applying gentle pressure to the fascia, or connective tissue, to release tension and improve mobility.
Massage therapy can be a valuable tool for women who have undergone a mastectomy. It can help to reduce pain, improve range of motion, and promote relaxation and well-being. However, it is important to work with a massage therapist who is experienced in post-mastectomy massage and who can tailor the treatment to meet the individual needs of the patient. With the right precautions and techniques, massage therapy can be a gentle and effective way to support healing and recovery after mastectomy surgery.
At Athlete’s Choice Massage, our experienced and registered therapists offer a compassionate and comfortable environment for you to get the treatment you need. Come back stronger than ever post-surgery. Book your appointment today.