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What should I do after a lumpectomy?

What should I do after a lumpectomy

Lumpectomy is a type of surgery common for female patients with breast cancer. Here, doctors cut out the cancerous area of tissue in the breast, and some of the normal tissue present around it. In medical terms, this area is termed as ‘surgical margin’.

The aim of this surgical procedure is the preservation of the healthy breast region and sensations in this region. Studies show that between 1998 and 2011, the rate of this procedure for cancer management increased from 48.4% to 58.8%.

Common candidates for lumpectomy

You may be required to go through the process if you fall under any of the following conditions:

  • Cancer affects only one part of your breast
  • You can complete the radiation therapy
  • Tumor is relatively small
  • A surgeon is confident that there is enough remaining tissue to reshape the breast after getting rid of the tumor

Preparation guide for lumpectomy

Female patients with breast cancer who are getting a lumpectomy should follow the given preparation steps first.

  • You should stop consuming blood-thinning medication like aspirin, at least one week or more before getting this surgical procedure.
  • Generally, it is recommended not to drink or eat anything 8-12 hours prior to this surgical procedure.
  • Checking with the insurance company about this procedure cost is important beforehand.
  • Take someone with you for support during this procedure

How is the procedure performed?

Before your surgery starts, you will have to change your clothes into a hospital gown. Then, a nurse will give you local anesthesia and a sedative to operate smoothly. However, to make the process entirely painless, they may give you general anesthesia.

As per your biopsy report, your surgeon will locate the tumor. During biopsies, doctors make a marking by placing a clip or metal market. So, a thin wire will be used to locate it. This will help the doctor make an incision in the right place.

Next, the doctor will remove the entire tumor along with some healthy cells. It is to make sure that no part of the tumor is left behind. The lump is then transferred to the lab for analysis.

Also, during the process, the doctor can remove a part of the lymph node under your arm to check for cancer. Then, at last, when everything is carried successfully, the incision is closed with stitches and bandages.

Which people should not get a lumpectomy?

Certain breast cancer patients are not suited for this type of surgical procedure for cancer tissue removal. The factors here include:

  • Those suffering from Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Those who have Scleroderma
  • Have already gone through radiation therapy
  • Have large tumor
  • Have huge cancerous area/tumor
  • More than one tumor is present.

Also, the lumpectomy process is not suitable for patients who cannot get radiation treatment due to a lack of resources or access.

Care after lumpectomy

After lumpectomy surgery completes, the hospital staff would take you to the recovery room. Here, doctors check the pulse, blood pressure, and breathing. Some of the things you can expect are:

  • A sensation of numbness, pinching feeling, and pain under the arm
  • Dressing at the incision site
  • Pain medication prescription and some antibiotics
  • Avoiding physical activities
  • Written information about postoperative care
  • Follow-up visit 7-14 days following the surgery with your doctor

Recovery steps to follow at home

The following are the at-home care steps after getting a lumpectomy surgery.

  • Medication– Breast cancer patients may feel pain or numbness in the surgery area. Here, doctors can suggest particular pain medications for pain management.
  • Rest– After the surgery, you may feel a lot of fatigue. It is important to get proper rest.
  • Support bra or sports bra– After the surgery, you should make sure that the breast area is well supported. This is important to lessen movement and reduce pain. So, wearing sports bras or support bras is appropriate for perfect comfort and support throughout the day. At night, it is necessary to put a pillow beside the operated breast for support if you have bigger breasts.
  • Sponge baths– In case the sutures, staples, and/or drains are still in place, it is best to take sponge baths instead of showers. Later, you should consult the doctor about when it is safe to shower.
  • Arm exercises– Surgeons would suggest particular arm exercises to practice, starting from the morning after the procedure.
  • Sleep position– It is best to sleep in a head elevated position with a pillow behind your back for support.

Conclusion

After getting a lumpectomy, it is important to follow proper care steps for accurate recovery. Consult your doctor for further information and suggestions.

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