Have I Mentioned the Smell?

So obviously this much cutting and bandaging and dripping and such comes along with various odors. While I was in the hospital, all I smelled was the nurses and their perfumes and lotions, which made me rather ill, along with my own body odor (five days of no showering or deodorant), which honestly surprised me (“What is that smell” I said to my mom on day four, only to realize that it was ME!). Incisions and bandages shouldn’t smell bad unless there’s an infection, and I’m happy to say that I haven’t really smelled anything yucky since I’ve been home and showering every day – even the leaky spot on my abdominal incision does not have an odor.

Today though, when I took off my shirt at the doctor’s office, I did notice a smell – like a sweaty feet sort of smell but not quite as pungent. I had taken a shower and deodorized this morning, so I didn’t think it was me. But the longer I sat there un-shirted, the more I realized it was coming from my breasts. More specifically, it was coming from the tape under my breasts. The plastic surgeon used a lot of tape under my breasts to keep them sort of standing upward, and he said the tape needs to stay there until it comes off on its own – he says this is typical procedure in a breast reduction (it’s a sort of tape bra). I make sure to dry it well after I shower, but it’s still pretty itchy and apparently it’s still staying somewhat moist because it stinks! Even now as I sit here, I can smell it wafting up through the neckline in my pajamas.

I’m a bit unsure what to do about this. The smell makes me think there’s bacteria in the tape, which makes me think I should take it off. But I read a lot of people online who said they regretted taking the tape off too soon because it made their incision (the one going from nipple downward) open up or not heal as quickly. Although I could deal with the smell, the idea of bacteria in there makes me nervous. The tape is, for the most part, coming off on its own. I think I will try to make it through to the weekend and then perhaps cut off as much as I can – whatever’s not completely stuck to my skin.


  1. Maybe it would make you feel better if you knew you were supporting your body’s capacity to fight bacterial infection? In which case, immune system support in the form of garlic, vitamin C, zinc, etc… I certainly wouldn’t recommend early removal of the surgical tape. Some of mine came off too early (in another location to the area you’re focusing on) and it meant that I ‘leaked’ fluid for about a week.

    As for not showering for 5 days whilst in hospital, I’m surprised. Here in the UK, where our health care is provided free at the point of use (though we pay for it through income tax), I had my first shower less than 48 hours after my 11-hour op. I was given virtually no choice in the matter and was accompanied by a nurse. Over my six days in hospital I showered four times and was chaperoned on the first two journeys.

  2. Those are great ideas. I am immune-compromised as it is (since I have RA) so it definitely makes me nervous. But like you said, I don’t want to take the tape off too early. I’m already leaking from my abdominal incision – definitely don’t want to leak from my frankenboobs too! I showered in the hospital on day 4 (I think in my head I was counting the day before the surgery too, since I showered early that morning). It was required. I left the hospital on day 5, so I didn’t shower again there.

  3. Well, I am not a medical professional, but I have had bandaids/bandages on for extended periods of time that smell just from being wet. Or clothes that smell that I forgot about in the washing machine. I don’t think it’s from bacteria. It’s just from being wet, and probably not fully drying.
    OR, my theory could be all wet. Pun intended. 🙂

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