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Surgical Breast Biopsy: Your Experience

Woman talking to healthcare provider.
Be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you take.
A surgical breast biopsy is done to remove a small piece of tissue from the breast. This tissue is then sent to a lab to be studied. Most surgical breast biopsies are done in a hospital or clinic. They are performed on an outpatient basis.

Understanding the risks

Risks that may happen with surgical biopsy include:

  • Excessive bleeding or bruising

  • Infection

  • Problems from the anesthesia

  • Poor wound healing

  • Change in breast shape

  • Failure to remove entire lesion

  • False-negative result

Before the biopsy

Tell your surgeon about any medicines, vitamins, supplements, or herbs you take. This includes over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin. Some of these may affect your body’s response during surgery. On the day of the biopsy, wear a loose shirt that buttons in front. Also, be sure to arrange for a trusted adult to drive you home.

After the biopsy

Usually you can go home the day of the biopsy. You may have bruising and swelling for a few days. If you need them, your surgeon may prescribe pain medicines. Ice packs can also help ease minor soreness or swelling. Be sure you know what type of pain medicine you can take if you need it. Leave your dressing on for as long as your surgeon suggests. Also, follow your surgeon’s advice about bathing and exercise.

  • Don't do any physical work or strenuous activity for the first 24 hours after the procedure. You can usually return to your normal routine after this brief period of rest.

  • Ask how long you should use a waterproof ice pack over the biopsy area, when your bandage can be taken off, and when you can take medicine, including aspirin, again.

  • You may have a bruise for 1 to 2 weeks after the procedure. This is normal. You may also have a tiny scar. Ask about wearing a supportive bra to help with discomfort.

  • If you have fever, excessive bleeding, swelling, or other problems, call your healthcare provider.

  • Ask your healthcare provider when you will get the results of the biopsy and who will explain them to you.

When to call your surgeon

Call your surgeon if you have any of these:

  • A fever over 100.4°F (38°C)

  • Increased pain, warmth, or redness at the puncture or incision site

  • Severe swelling that doesn’t go away in a few days

  • Drainage from the puncture or incision site

  • Bleeding that soaks through the dressing

Know how to reach your healthcare provider if you have problems or concerns. Be sure you know how to get help after office hours, on weekends, and on holidays, too. 

© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.