Lumpectomy Surgery Recovery – What To Expect

lumpectomy surgery recoveryHumans by their very nature do not like the unknown, which might explain why one of the most frequent questions we are asked at the Texas Breast Center is what to expect regarding your lumpectomy surgery recovery.

This is something that Dr. Gorman always explains in great detail, before the operation as it is essential that our patients have the proper care and support systems in place so that they can recover from their breast cancer treatment quickly.

The good news is that due to advances in technology, for most women having a lumpectomy procedure there is no need for an overnight stay. Nobody likes the thought of spending time in a hospital bed, so this normally brings a great deal of relief to our patients, being able to go home to your bed, and be surrounded by your family is an excellent way to start the recovery process.

Will I Need Pain Medication During Lumpectomy Surgery Recovery?

At the Texas Breast Center, we will always prescribe you some form of pain medication. This does not necessarily mean that you will need it, but it is still better to have it on hand just in case. In light of that, it makes sense to have a friend or relative get the prescription filled for you, so that if and when you do require it, you already have the medication. In some cases, the hospital pharmacy will bring the medicine to the recovery room.

Will I Need To Do Anything Specific To Take Care Of The Dressing?

Each case will vary, but in the vast majority of situations, Doctor Gorman recommends typically leaving the dressing in place for 1-2 days. Ensure that you keep the dressing clean and dry, but other than that, there is very little care needed for your dressing.

Will I Go Home With A Surgical Drain?

The answer to this question is entirely dependent on your circumstances, in some cases, a drain will stay in place for between 1 and two weeks, after surgery. If you are going home with a drain in place, our staff will teach you and your family how to empty the drain safely. This sounds complicated but is a quick and easy procedure, which entails emptying any fluid that has accrued using the detachable drain bulb up to four or five times a day.

Will I Have Stitches or Staples?

Perhaps you had previous experiences with stitches, where you had to revisit the doctor a few weeks later, to have those stitches removed. The good news is that most of the time Dr. Gorman uses dissolvable sutures, which essentially means that the stitches perform their job, before dissolving, without the need for any further input from the surgeon.

Will I Have To Do Any Exercise?

One of the risks when it comes to lumpectomies is that the shoulder and arm on the side where the lumpectomy was performed can be prone to stiffness. As a consequence, your surgeon may show you some gentle exercises to perform during your recovery period. These will not be too challenging, but it is essential that you perform them as advised by the surgeon, which in some instances may be as soon as the morning after the operation.

Is There Any Risk of Infection?

There is always some form of risk with any type of operation, however small. Dr. Gorman will explain to you what the signs and symptoms of infection would look like, and the procedures to follow should an infection occur.

How Will I Feel For The First Few Days After The Operation?

It is highly likely that you will feel some tenderness, swelling and bruising around the area where the incision was made. You are also likely to feel very tired after all a lumpectomy is quite a serious operation. The tenderness normally only lasts for between two and three days, the bruising no longer than about two weeks, but do not be worried or concerned if any swelling takes up to three months to subside.

For the first week or so we would advise you to wear a well-fitted bra, day and night, to give you maximum support. Get plenty of rest and let your family spoil you, you deserve it. Some women feel that they can get back to some semblance of a normal life after one week, but the average is between one and three weeks.

If your surgeon has removed any of your lymph nodes, there is a possibility that you will feel a tingling sensation, similar to pins and needles in the area under your armpit. There may also be a feeling of numbness there, but generally, both these symptoms will improve over time.

Be prepared for some emotional responses, once the operation has been completed. You have been under a lot of pressure both physically and emotionally in the run-up to the operation, and some women find themselves struggling to cope emotionally after the operation. They have put so much energy into worrying about the procedure, that they struggle with emotion once the operation is over.  You can always call our offices to speak with someone, talk to a family friend or loved one, or we can even advise you of suitable councilors to talk things over with.

Follow Up Care Is A Vital Part of The Operation

Although the operation itself is the most important part of the process, it is critical that you follow all the advice given to you to help your recovery. This means attending all of your follow up appointments, informing us if you are struggling with anything, no matter how small or insignificant, and ensuring you take all of your medications at the correct time and in the correct dosage. At Texas Breast Center, we want to ensure you receive a high standard of care throughout your treatment, including the aftercare. Remember we are always available to answer any of your questions and concerns, before and after the operation.