Knowing what to expect can help make your road to recovery after lumpectomy as smooth as possible. 

How long will it take to recover?

Most lumpectomies are outpatient procedures in which you go home the day of surgery. In some cases, a brief hospital stay is required. 

You will stay in the recovery room after surgery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable. You may have a sore throat if a tube was placed in your windpipe during surgery. This is usually temporary, but tell your care team if you are uncomfortable.

You might have a small tube in your chest at your surgery site. This will be attached to small bags into which fluid can drain. Your doctor will remove the tube within a week or so. During this time, you will need to empty the drain several times a day. Your care team will show you how to do this before you go home.

Recovery after surgery is a gradual process. Recovery time varies depending on the procedure, type of anesthesia, your general health, age, and other factors. Full recovery takes up to a month.

Will I feel pain?

Pain control is an important for healing and a smooth recovery. There will be discomfort after your surgery. Your doctor will treat your pain so you are comfortable and can get the rest you need. Call your doctor if your pain gets worse or changes because it may be a sign of a complication.

When should I call my doctor?

It is important to keep your follow-up appointments after.  Contact your doctor for questions and concerns between appointments. Call your doctor right away or seek immediate medical care if you have:

  • Bleeding
  • Breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, or wheezing
  • Change in level of alertness, such as passing out, unresponsiveness, or confusion
  • Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure, or palpitations
  • Fever. A low-grade fever (lower than 101 degrees Fahrenheit) is common for a couple of days after surgery. It is not necessarily a sign of a surgical infection. However, you should follow your doctor's specific instructions about when to call for a fever.
  • Inability to urinate, pass gas, or have a bowel movement
  • Leg pain, redness or swelling, especially in the calf, which may indicate a blood clot
  • Nausea and vomiting or diarrhea
  • Pain that is not controlled by your pain medication, worsening pain, or pain that changes
  • Unexpected drainage, pus, redness or swelling of your incision or drain tube

How might lumpectomy affect my everyday life?

A lumpectomy can help cure your noncancerous breast tumor or early stage breast cancer. The treated breast sometimes  varies in size or shape from the other breast. It will take some time to adjust to the new appearance of your breast.