What to Expect After a Breast Biopsy

What’s a Breast Biopsy and Why Do I Need One?

A breast biopsy involves removing a sample of breast tissue or cells to test them for cancer. Your doctor may recommend a biopsy if your mammogram has an abnormal result, you have a lump in the breast or nearby lymph node, or if there are changes in your nipple, such as dimpling, thickening, scaling, or crusting of the skin.

Here, we’ll outline what you can expect during your breast biopsy, your recovery time, and what you need to know to care for yourself once it’s done.

After Your Breast Biopsy

What happens after your breast biopsy will depend on what type of biopsy you had and the type of anesthesia used. If general anesthesia was used, you’ll be taken to a recovery room and watched closely. Once they’ve determined that your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you’re alert, you’ll be taken to your hospital room, or you may be able to go home. If your biopsy was done on an outpatient basis, you should make arrangements to have someone drive you home. 

If you had local anesthesia, you’ll be able to go home after you’ve completed the recovery period.

Recovery Time

The recovery time for a breast biopsy depends on whether it was surgical or non-invasive. Biopsies involving an incision and stitches have longer recovery times, typically around two weeks. The recovery time for a non-invasive biopsy is around 24 hours. Your doctor can discuss your expected recovery time in greater detail.

Mild Pain

After a breast biopsy procedure, you may experience some mild pain that lasts for several days. You may also experience:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness

Typically, an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen will help alleviate any discomfort. 

Incision Care

If you have strips of tape on your incision, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off. To care for your incision, wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and gently pat it dry. Don’t use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can delay healing. If your incision weeps or is rubbing against your clothing, you can cover the area with a gauze bandage, which should be changed daily. Keep the area clean and dry.

Medication

Your doctor will let you know if and when you can resume taking your medications. You’ll also be given instructions about taking any new medications. 

Limit Activities

While walking every day is recommended to boost blood flow, there are some activities you should avoid during the first two weeks of recovery including:

  • Jogging
  • Aerobic exercise
  • Strenuous housework
  • Weight training
  • Lifting heavy objects

Visit Baptist Health to Learn More

To ensure your breast biopsy procedure goes as scheduled, follow the instructions given by your care team. If you have additional questions about getting a breast biopsy, find a Baptist Health provider near you today to schedule an appointment.

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