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Lumpectomy is the removal of the breast tumor and some of the normal tissue that surrounds it, to help ensure that all the cancer or other abnormal tissue is removed. It is a form of breast-conserving or breast preservation surgery. Lumpectomy may be performed for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), for invasive ductal carcinoma, or for other conditions. The lumpectomy surgery itself should take about 15-40 minutes and most surgeons use curved incisions that follow the natural curve of your breast to allow for better healing.

Sometimes, a drain will be surgically inserted into your breast area or armpit to collect excess fluid that can accumulate in the space where the tumor was. The drain is connected to a plastic bulb that creates suction to help remove fluid. After the incision is closed and the wound dressed, you will be moved to the recovery room, where staff will monitor your heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure. Unless you are also having lymph nodes removed, staying overnight in the hospital is not usually necessary. You will recuperate at home for a few days after surgery, and while you do so, you need to:

  • get enough rest so that you can return to your normal routine in a few days
  • take pain medication as needed
  • wear a good sports or support bra
  • begin doing arm exercises if your surgeon has advised you to do so, the morning after surgery
  • take sponge baths until your doctor has removed your drains and/or sutures
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