What should you do with your dressings when you go home?


Wide local excision and sentinel node biopsy, or mastectomy and sentinel node biopsy

If you have had a Wide Local Excision and Sentinel Node Biopsy or Mastectomy and Sentinel Node Biopsy, you will have a light top dressing in place. Beneath this, you will have skin strips or glue, depending on your surgeon’s preference. Your stitches are dissolvable.

Remember all wounds look slightly different and your dressings may not look exactly like this. There may be considerable bruising and swelling which is quite normal.
You must keep the area dry for 48 hours. You may then remove the top dressing, leaving the shower proof skin strips in place until they fall off. Alternatively they can be removed when you are next in clinic. If you are concerned contact your breast care nurse.

Before you remove your top dressing you must wash your hands with soap and water in order to reduce the risk of infection.

Once your top dressing has been removed, (after 48 hours) you may shower with your back to the shower head, allowing water to flow over your shoulders. Do not allow the full force of the shower directly on your wound. Alternatively you may sit in a shallow bath but do not allow your wound to soak. Do not use perfumed soap or shower gel. Pat the area dry with a clean towel. Use a separate towel for the rest of your body.

Avoid touching your wound, stitches or drain site with your fingers as it heals.This will reduce the risk of infection.You may see fine threads which are stitches within or at the ends of your scar. Do not pull on these. They will fall out naturally or the nurse in clinic may trim them when you are attending for an appointment.


All other breast surgery

Mastectomy with Axillary Node Clearance, Breast Reconstruction of any kind, Insertion of Tissue Expanders, and Insertion of Implants, Nipple Reconstruction, Mastopexy or Mammoplasty, you must keep your dressing dry and leave it in place until you visit the dressing, or post op clinic.  Appointments to attend will be given to you upon discharge from the ward.

Occasionally you may wake up with a bigger dressing to put more pressure on the wound initially. You will be given advice on how to look after this before you leave the ward.

Negative pressure dressings (PICO/PREVENA)

This will remain in place and should function for 7 days. You will be given a booklet as you are discharged from the ward which will give information on how this type of dressing works. If you have any concerns you may contact us on the numbers below.


If you experience any of the following, please contact us using the contact details below-

  • Swelling or redness around the wound site.
  • Adverse skin reaction to the dressing/adhesive.
  • The area feels hot to touch.
  • You feel hot and shivery.
  • Your dressing becomes wet, or falls off.
  • Your dressing becomes heavily bloodstained.
  • A build-up of fluid(seroma) that is uncomfortable.

Contacts for:-

Nightingale Centre patients (F16):

Ring the Nightingale Centre on 0161 291 4497 for the dressings clinic, or your Breast Care Nurse on 0161 291 3113. (8.00am - 17.30pm Monday – Friday)

Alternatively you can contact the ward staff (F16) on 0161 291 5060/2943/2944 (out of these hours)

Plastic surgery patients (F1 South):

Ring Outpatients dressings clinic on 0161 291 4899 (8.00am - 17.00pm Monday – Friday)

Alternatively you can contact the ward staff (F1 South) on 0161 291 2195 (out of these hours)