Surgery for Breast Cancer: What to Expect and Recovery Tips

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer globally. And usually, doctors prefer surgical removal as the primary treatment for this kind of cancer. Based on the stage and location of the tumor, other supportive breast cancer treatments like radiotherapy and chemotherapy might also be included in the treatment plan. 

If you or one of your loved ones are about to undergo breast cancer surgery, you must know a few things. This article describes the surgical procedure and how you can make an efficient recovery without any complications. Read on to learn more about the same. 

What To Expect From Breast Cancer Surgery? 

Two types of surgery for breast cancer are performed—lumpectomy and mastectomy. In the early stages of cancer, you can decide which of these you want. However, in more advanced stages, oncologists prescribe a mastectomy. 


This type of breast cancer surgery involves removing only the cancerous tissues from the breast. The adjoining lymph nodes and/or a part of the chest wall might also be removed based on how far the cancer has spread. This surgery is usually not recommended if your cancer is at an advanced stage. 

If you undergo this surgery, your overall breast structure will be preserved. However, you would have to undergo radiation therapy after the surgery to prevent cancer from recurring. 


This surgery includes removing the whole affected breast. Some of the adjoining lymph nodes and/or a part of the chest lining might also be removed. 

If you undergo this surgery for breast cancer during the early stage, you might not need radiotherapy. However, based on your case, the doctor might recommend chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or hormone therapy. 

If you wish, you can also opt for breast reconstruction surgery. It is, however, not mandatory. 

Tips For Recovery After Breast Cancer Surgery 

Your recovery period would vary based on the type of breast cancer surgery you go through. After a lumpectomy, you can return to your daily activities in 5 to 10 days. The incisions, however, would take some more time to heal completely. A simple mastectomy procedure requires a recovery period of 3 to 4 weeks. And if you pair up a mastectomy with breast reconstruction surgery, it would take 6 to 8 weeks for you to recover. 

Please note that the recovery period varies among individuals. Talk to your doctor about your expected recovery time. 

For an efficient and complication-free recovery, you can follow the tips mentioned below:

  • Keep your incisions clean and dry for one week after the surgery. Instead of taking showers, opt for a sponge bath. 
  • Change your bandages as instructed by the doctor. They might also give you a special bra to hold your bandages in place. 
  • Restrict your upper body movement for about a week after the surgery. Putting too much strain might reopen the incisions. 
  • Once your incisions have healed, try mild exercises for upper body mobility. Please ensure you get a green signal from your doctor for doing this. The exercises may include arm lifts, arm swings, etc. 
  • Once your incisions have healed, the scars might feel tough at first, but they soften with time. Apply mild lotions or pure lanolin to it. Avoid using lotions or soap with harsh chemicals in that area. 
  • During recovery, you might feel a slight tingling near your armpits or in your upper arms. This would go away with time, but if it doesn’t, consult with your doctor. 

The Outlook

Surgeries for breast cancer are simple and have high success rates. They give efficient results when paired with appropriate secondary treatments as and when needed. 

If you are looking for an efficient and personalized breast cancer treatment plan, you can consult with us. Dr Saphalta advises the most suitable treatment plans for you and suggests you the best available doctors in the field. With a reliable treatment plan and the support of an expert cancer care team, you can undergo comfortable and efficient treatment and recovery.

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