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After the Procedure
After a lumpectomy, the woman is moved to a surgery recovery room for a short time. Most women go home with home care instructions the same day, but a few have to stay in the hospital for one to two days. Preventing infection is usually an emphasis of the doctor's home care instructions. Postsurgical factors depend on the size and location of the tumor removed, the general health of the woman, and the preferences of the patient and her doctor. An ice bag over the incision (on top of the bandages) for the first 24 hours may help to relieve the pain.
If a quarter or more of the breast was removed, the woman should expect a slower healing process. Most women can expect to resume their normal activities after one to two days. Women who undergo a sentinel lymph node biopsy or axillary dissection at the same time as lumpectomy can expect to return to normal activities by about two weeks after surgery. In the meantime, they usually take prescribed medications that help control any pain. If the pain increases, the woman should contact her doctor to check for infection or other complications, which are not common following a lumpectomy. Major soreness typically stops after two to three days.
The doctor usually discourages the woman from attempting to lift anything over five pounds for the first several days following surgery. Other physical activities may also be discouraged. The doctor usually recommends that she continuously wear a bra that fits well for about a full week after surgery.
Some women may have drainage tubes inserted into the armpit that collect blood and other fluid during the initial healing process. The woman may have to empty the drains and measure the fluid. She should report any problems to her doctor.
Leigh A Neumayer, MD, MS, FACS
Marga Massey, MD
Galen Poole, MD, FACS
Mary L Windle, PharmD
Lee P Shulman, MD
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