Frequently Asked Questions: Procedures

Procedure FAQs
How soon after my mastectomy can I drive?

You may drive when you are no longer taking narcotic pain medication and when you have regained motion of your arm and shoulder. Most persons are able to drive about 2 weeks post op.

How long should I be off work after this surgery?

After a lumpectomy you may return to work the next day if you feel up to it and are not taking any narcotics. After a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy you will need about a week off from work and after an axillary dissection you will need at least 2 weeks off.

Will the surgery leave a dent in my breast? How will my breast look after the surgery?

Usually a lump or tumor can be removed from the breast without leaving a deformity other than a scar. Sometimes if the lump or tumor is large there may be a change in the shape of the breast. Be sure to ask your doctor how your breast might look after the surgery.

Where will the scar be?

Generally the incision to remove a tumor is placed over the spot where the tumor is in the breast. Every attempt is made to keep the incision as small as possible and to make it as cosmetically acceptable as possible while accomplishing the complete removal of the tumor.

How soon will I know my pathology results?

Generally the results are available about 4 days after the surgery. You may call the office at that time to get the results over the phone or you may set up a time with the doctor to get them in person, or you will be given a copy of the results at the time of your post operative visit.

Will my family doctor get a copy of my results and other information about my surgery?

Yes. A copy of your results will be faxed to your doctor as soon as they become available.

Will I need to stay in the hospital after my surgery?

Most of the time breast surgery is performed as an outpatient meaning that you are able to return home after the surgery has been completed. Many persons are more comfortable at home after these types of procedures. Please discuss with your doctor if you would feel more comfortable staying in the hospital overnight after your surgery.

What can I expect on the day of my surgery?

When your surgery is scheduled, you will be given instructions from the office about what time to arrive at the hospital and when to stop eating and drinking pre operatively. Be sure to follow these instructions carefully because failure to follow them might result in your surgery being canceled. When you arrive at the hospital you will be directed to the outpatient surgical care unit. A nurse will check you in and measure your height and weight, blood pressure, heart rate and respirations. You will change clothes and put on a hospital gown. An IV will be started. You will also be asked to sign a consent form for the operation and anesthesia. If you are scheduled for a localization procedure or injection for a sentinel node biopsy you will be taken radiology or nuclear medicine to have these done if they have not been performed already. Shortly before your surgery is scheduled you will be taken to the preoperative holding area where you will be interviewed by a nurse and meet the anesthesiologist who will be giving your anesthesia. Your surgeon will also be there to talk with you briefly before your surgery. Only one of your family members will be able to accompany you into this area. When the operating room is ready for you, you will be taken there. You will probably not remember much after this point. When you wake up you might spend a short time in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit while the effects of the anesthesia wear off. From there you will be taken back to the Out Patient Surgical Care Unit until you are ready to return home. When the surgery is over the surgeon will talk with your family and friends about the procedure and give them information about the findings and what to expect postoperatively.

When can I get a prosthesis after my mastectomy?

You can wear a soft, cotton fiber filled prosthesis immediately after the surgery if it is comfortable for you. In most cases you will not be measured for a permanent prosthesis for about six weeks after your surgery. This is so any post operative swelling can resolve before you are measured. You may need a prescription for the prosthesis. Don’t forget to ask for one when you come in for your postoperative visit.