How Long Is the Recovery From a Lumpectomy?

Recovery after a lumpectomy may vary from person to person.
Recovery after a lumpectomy may vary from person to person.

Recovery after a lumpectomy may vary from person to person. It depends on several factors, such as the size of the lump to be removed, type of anesthesia, general health of the patient, and age of the patient. Generally, the healing time varies from a few days to a week. The recovery may be different when a lumpectomy is done with lymph node biopsy (when a lymph node is removed and sent for lab examination) than what it will be without a lymph node biopsy.

  • Lumpectomy without a lymph node biopsy: After two to three days of this procedure, you may feel well enough to resume work. It may take a week for you to resume normal physical activities, such as going to the gym.
  • Lumpectomy with a lymph node biopsy: Because the procedure involves removing a piece of lymph node tissue (biopsy) for lab examination, it may take a bit longer to recover than a lumpectomy without a lymph node biopsy. After a lumpectomy with a lymph node biopsy, you may require up to a week off from work to recover. Strenuous activities must be curtailed for longer periods in these cases.

While the healing occurs, there may be several different sensations such as sharp pain, tenderness, or numbness in your breast. These symptoms usually come and go. These sensations generally get better within a few months of the surgery. There may be a drain (a rubber drainage tube inserted during the surgery to collect excess fluid that accumulates in the area where the lump was removed) placed at the site of the surgery. It is usually removed within one to two weeks. The scar at the site of the surgical cut (incision) may feel hard. It may take many months to become soft.

What is a lumpectomy?

Lumpectomy is the surgery done for the removal of breast cancer or other abnormal tissue (called the lump) from the breast. The lump is removed along with some surrounding normal tissue (called a surgical margin). Lumpectomy is a breast conservative surgery (BCS), which means it removes the lesion or tumor while conserving most of the breast tissue. The surgery is often done to remove localized (early stage) breast cancer or a noncancerous mass. Radiation therapy may be given after a lumpectomy. In some women, lymph node removal (lymph node biopsy) may be done from the armpit to know whether the tumor has spread from the breast tissue.

What are the complications of a lumpectomy?

The complications of a lumpectomy may include:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Swelling (it usually goes away in a few days)
  • Tenderness
  • Numbness
  • Scarring at the site of the surgery
  • Change in the breast shape, size, or appearance
  • Complications related to anesthesia such as allergic reactions or breathing problems

Will a lumpectomy change the appearance of my breast?

Lumpectomy is a breast-sparing or breast-conserving surgery, which means that it preserves most of the structure and sensations of the breast. The procedure generally causes little scarring or changes in breast size and appearance. There may be some changes in breast size and appearance if the surgery is more invasive. If there is any problem with the cosmetic aspect of your breast, you may go for certain procedures to enhance breast appearance. These procedures include breast augmentation or reduction surgery, tissue rearrangement, and cosmetic plastic surgery on the other breast to make both breasts appear similar.


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References What Is Lumpectomy?

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