Depending on the extent of the operative procedure, you may be given a prescription for a mild narcotic, or be asked to take Tylenol as needed for pain. In general, outpatient procedures on the breast tend to be well-tolerated with minimal post-operative discomfort. Bruising and soreness is not uncommon, especially if you had undergone preoperative placement of a wire before your surgery.
Applying ice to the breast intermittently for the first 24 hours after surgery may help reduce swelling and discomfort. Wearing a bra for support may also alleviate discomfort, but this is not mandatory. Excessive pain, swelling or firmness in the breast after surgery may indicate a bleeding complication. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should call our office.
The surgical area, particularly under the incision, will feel as though a new lump has appeared. This is to be expected, and will resolve over several weeks. You may shower over your dressing at any time. You can remove your dressing in 48 hours and shower over your incision then. You should leave the small pieces of tape (Steri-Strips) in place, and they will eventually fall off by themselves. You should avoid bathing or swimming for two weeks. If you notice unusual redness, bleeding, cloudy drainage, or excessive swelling in the area, call our office.
You will be able to resume your regular activities the day after your outpatient breast procedure, including driving and exercising in moderation. More vigorous activities, jogging, and/or aerobic exercises are not recommended for approximately one week. In most cases, you will only need to miss one day of work, the day of surgery.
If you had undergone a simple mastectomy or a modified radical mastectomy, you will be discharged to home after a brief, 24-hour hospital stay with one or two drains in place (see JP Drain Care). Patients may return to work after a few days, but some prefer to stay out from work until the drains are removed (usually one to two weeks).
If you had a level I/II axillary dissection (not a sentinel node procedure), you should avoid raising your arm above shoulder level for two weeks, while your drain is in place. This will hasten healing. After two weeks, you should resume exercises to stretch the shoulder to return full shoulder motion and mobility. Walking your fingers up a wall is a good and simple exercise to begin this. You should avoid wearing any constricting items on your arm on the side of the surgery, such as watches, bracelets or tight sleeves. You are at risk for developing arm swelling, and you want to minimize the chances of developing this. If you had a sentinel node biopsy, you have no restrictions after surgery and you are not at a similar risk for arm swelling.
In most cases, the pathology report will be available in 2-3 working days. I will call you once the results are available. You should follow-up in the office for a post-operative visit approximately two weeks after your surgery. If you have a drain in place, you may be asked to follow-up sooner for drain removal. Typically, the drain is ready for removal when the output is less than 30cc a day for two days.