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Recovering from a lumpectomy is, fortunately, typically a short process, but many women feel uneasy and are concerned about long-term effects, including the cosmetic effects of the surgery. Below is a quick guide to what to expect after a lumpectomy.
A mass excision or lumpectomy is the removal of tissue believed to be cancerous from the breast. These lumps cannot necessarily be felt during an examination, but sometimes can show up during imaging scans. When suspect lumps are found, further diagnostics are performed by a radiologist, who will perform a wire localization with the aid of a mammogram or ultrasound. This will tell the surgeon where the lump is and allow for a more precise and smaller incision to be made.
After making a small incision in the breast the surgeon then removes the lump and some of the surrounding tissue, although the surgeon will try to minimize surrounding tissue loss. Once the tissue has been removed, it will be handed to a pathologist who will analyze it to determine if it is cancerous or not and to ensure that there is no cancer in the outer layers of the surrounding tissue. If cancer is present here it would indicate that it has spread further from the source.
Sometimes the surgeon will also remove some tissue from the lymph nodes in the armpit to check that the cancer hasn’t spread to them. Also, the surgeon may insert some small metal clips into the area where tissue was removed, so that it shows up clearly on future imaging tests.
Fortunately, recovery from a lumpectomy doesn’t take long and most women will not experience any serious pain or discomfort after the procedure.
The affected skin should heal in four weeks or so. Your doctor can advise you on how to look after the skin around the incision to promote healing. They will also explain to you how to change any dressings if necessary.
Most women can resume their usual routines and physical activities within a week but should avoid heavy lifting, jogging, and any activity which causes pain to the area, until two weeks after the procedure.
The prognosis following a lumpectomy depends on the size of the tumor and what the lab results say. If your lymph nodes are found to contain cancerous cells then there is a good chance of the cancer spreading.
Mass excision surgeries, such as lumpectomies, can seem scary. If you are facing a mass excision surgery of your own and have concerns then drop into our mass excision clinic for a consultation.