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Breast surgical biopsy is when the doctor makes a cut in the breast to remove all or part of a mass. The mass is examined in a lab.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do the following:
- Physical exam, especially a breast exam
- Blood tests
- Mammogram and/or breast ultrasound
Leading up to the biopsy:
- Talk to your doctor about your current medicines. Certain medicines may need to be stopped before the procedure, such as:
- Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs for up to one week before surgery
- Blood-thinning drugs, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
- The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
- Shower the morning of the biopsy. You may be asked to use a special antibacterial soap.
You may receive the following types of anesthesia:
- Local anesthesia—Only the area that is being operated on is numbed.
- General anesthesia —Blocks pain and keeps you asleep through the surgery; given through an IV (needle in your vein) in your hand or arm.
Description of the Procedure
There are different ways the doctor can remove the mass from your breast:
Breast Open Biopsy
You will also be given either general or local anesthesia. The skin over the area will be cleaned. The doctor will make a small cut over the area. A sample of the tissue or all of the mass will be removed. The doctor will close the site with stitches or staples. A bandage will be applied.
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
This technique will be used if the mass is too deep to be felt but can be seen with imaging tests. Once the mass is located, the doctor will place a fine wire into your breast that points to the spot that needs to be biopsied. She will make a small cut in the area and remove the mass.
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
You may feel pain in your breast after the biopsy. Your doctor will prescribe pain medicine.
When you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
- Take pain medicine as directed by your doctor.
- To relieve discomfort, apply a warm compress or a heating pad to the area.
- Wear a supportive bra.
- Ask your doctor when you should change the bandages.
- Restrict exercise for 2-3 weeks after surgery.
- If you have stitches, have them removed in about a week.
- Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions .
It will take about 2-5 days to receive your test results.
American Cancer Society
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
Canadian Cancer Society
Biopsy. The Breastcancer.org website. Available at:
. Accessed February 19, 2008.
Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC.
Procedures for Primary Care Physicians. St. Louis, MO: Mosby-Year Book; 1994.
Sabiston DC, Lyerly HK.
Textbook of Surgery. 15th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Co.; 1997.