Breast Cancer Surgery FAQ

Breast Cancer Surgery FAQ

A breast cancer diagnosis can set off a cascade of emotions, and you might feel as though you have little control. One way to regain that control is by getting answers to your questions after learning about your diagnosis.

Even though the list of questions may seem endless, we’ll use this blog post to address some of the most common questions about breast cancer surgery patients ask us at Bedford Breast Center.

What Should I Do if I Have a Positive Biopsy?

The first thing to do after learning your biopsy came back positive is to schedule an appointment with a breast specialist. Your physician will provide the information you need and help you understand your biopsy results so that you can make the best possible choices regarding your treatment plan.

How Urgent Is Breast Cancer Surgery?

Surgery is one of the main treatment options for breast cancer. After receiving a cancer diagnosis, it’s a natural urge to want to undergo surgery as quickly as possible. that said, for most patients, time is on their side.

We recommend taking a few weeks to review your options. Research has shown that delays of less than 90 days shouldn’t compromise your prognosis.

This time frame permits a comprehensive diagnosis, additional necessary tests, and the opportunity to create a tailored treatment plan that addresses both your medical and cosmetic considerations.

Does All Breast Cancer Require Surgery?

For most breast cancer patients, surgery is part of the treatment plan. Doctors recommend surgery for different reasons based on the specific type of cancer that’s been diagnosed.

The surgical options include lumpectomy and mastectomy. Many patients also elect for reconstructive surgery, while others choose to go flat after mastectomy.

What’s the Difference of a Lumpectomy vs. Mastectomy?

Lumpectomy surgery (also called breast-conserving surgery) removes only the tumor and a margin of surrounding healthy tissue (and often one or more lymph nodes in the armpit). It is almost always followed by radiation treatment.

A mastectomy removes all breast tissue (and usually some lymph nodes in the armpit). Traditionally, mastectomy also includes the removal of the nipple-areola complex. At Bedford Breast Center, our surgeons specialize in nipple-sparing mastectomy, which preserves the nipple, allowing for better aesthetic outcomes.

Your breast surgeon will explain the techniques involved in both procedures so that you and your care team can decide the best surgical approach for you.

Are Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction Performed at the Same Time?

You have the option of undergoing breast reconstruction immediately after your mastectomy. Direct-to-implant breast reconstruction, or single-stage reconstruction, is an advanced surgical technique pioneered by board-certified plastic surgeon and co-founder of Bedford Breast Center, Dr. Lisa Cassileth.

Many patients prefer this option because there is no need for tissue expanders or additional surgeries. It also offers the emotional benefit of waking up with breasts and resuming their lives more quickly.

What Is Breast Cancer Surgery Recovery Time?

The recovery time after breast cancer surgery depends on the specific technique and how fast a patient typically heals. Recovery after a lumpectomy without a lymph node biopsy usually takes only a few days. You may need a week off from work if the procedure includes a biopsy. A mastectomy is a more invasive procedure with a longer recovery time. Patients should avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity for approximately 3 to 4 weeks after a mastectomy. Generally, patients can return to work and other regular routines within 1 to 2 weeks.

What Is a Prophylactic Mastectomy?

Women with an elevated risk of developing breast cancer may undergo preventative surgery to remove one or both breasts. (Women at high risk generally have at least a 20% chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime.) If you’re uncertain whether or not you’re high risk and you have a strong family history of breast cancer, you might want to consider genetic testing for BRCA gene mutation.

This preventative procedure is called a prophylactic mastectomy. The surgery can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 90% for women in the high-risk category.

Schedule a Consultation

If you’d like to speak with one of our breast surgeons about your breast cancer surgery options, call our Beverly Hills, CA, office at (310) 278-8590 or request a consultation using the online form. We’re here to support you every step of the way and help you embrace life after breast cancer.

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