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An open breast biopsy is surgery to take a sample of breast tissue. It may be done to check a lump found during a breast examination. Or it may be done to check an area of concern found on a mammogram or ultrasound.
If the doctor can't feel the lump, a small wire can be put in the area during a mammogram or ultrasound just before surgery. The tip of the wire will guide the doctor to the area to be checked.
The doctor will make a small cut in the breast to remove a piece of tissue. The cut is called an incision. If the lump or suspicious area is small, the doctor may be able to take out the entire lump or area. The doctor will close the incision with stitches.
The breast tissue will be sent to a lab. There it will be examined under a microscope to check for breast cancer. Your doctor may get some answers right away. But it can take up to 1 to 2 weeks to get the final results.
You will be able to go home on the same day as the biopsy. Most women are able to go back to work in 1 or 2 days. This depends on how you feel and the type of work you do. For 2 weeks after surgery, you will need to avoid bouncing and strenuous activities that involve the upper body.
The surgery will leave a small scar on your breast that will fade with time. Less often, the surgery may leave a dent in the breast. You may be able to feel a hard area where the biopsy was done. This is a normal part of the healing process. It does not mean that the lump is growing back. The area will get softer in the weeks after surgery.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: August 22, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Laura S. Dominici MD - General Surgery, Breast Surgical Oncology
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