Postoperative Instructions - Breast Cases

Postoperative Instructions - Breast Cases


  • Eat lightly the first night after surgery. Avoid heavy, greasy, spicy foods.
  • Resume regular diet as tolerated in the morning.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • No alcohol, including beer and wine, for 24 hours and while taking narcotic pain medicine.


  • Activity allowed guided by common sense and discomfort level. Walking and stairs are ok. Have someone with you until you feel secure.
  • Take slow, deep breaths and cough to open lungs.
  • No driving while taking narcotics. Be sure you can twist/move comfortably before you drive.
  • You may shower the morning after surgery.
  • No tub baths, swimming or soaking for 2 weeks.
  • After a sentinel lymph node biopsy, it is normal to have a greenish-blue discoloration of the urine.
  • Wearing a good bra (support or sports bra) day and night, will provide more support for healing and may help with pain control.
  • Return to work when cleared by the surgeon. This is on an individual basis determined by job duties.

Pain Control

  • A prescription for narcotic pain medicine may be given to you. Follow directions and use as needed. Do not take pain medication on an empty stomach, as it may cause nausea/vomiting.
  • For milder pain, acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be used, instead of the prescription pain medication. Some prescription pain medications, such as hydrocodone/APAP, contain Tylenol. Ibuprofen is ok if approved by your surgeon.
  • Narcotic pain medicine can constipate you; drink lots of fluids, increase fiber in your diet, and you may use an over-the-counter stool softener or laxative if needed.
  • Apply an ice pack to the incision area (30 minutes on, 30 minutes off) as needed while awake. Place a cloth between the skin and ice pack.

Wound Care

  • The incision is closed with sutures under the skin. These will dissolve and do not need to be removed.
  • You may notice bruising or skin discoloration around the incision or nipple area. It is normal to have a lump along the incision area. This will slowly resolve on its own.
  • Remove the clear plastic gauze dressing by the 2nd day after surgery. You may shower with this bandage on. Remove the bandage if it gets wet under the clear plastic.
  • Steri-Strips (white reinforced paper tapes) may be present over your incision underneath the outer dressing. Allow these to fall off on their own.
  • You may shower with the Steri-Strips on. Do not scrub the area. Pat dry.
  • If "skin glue" was used, you will NOT have a bandage. You may note some clear or white flakiness around your incision. Do not scrub this off. It will dissolve on its own.

Sign And Symptoms Of Infection

  • Fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Redness and warmth at the incision site.
  • Swelling extending out more than an inch from the incision site.
  • Worsening pain from baseline pain level.
  • Cloudy, yellow or green drainage from the incision site.

Pathology Results

We will call you with pathology results as soon as they are available. Please allow 5 working days.

Post-op Appointment

Please call to schedule your post-operative appointment for 2 weeks after your procedure, unless instructed otherwise by your surgeon.


In Affiliation With Saint Agnes Healthcare


For more than 150 years, Saint Agnes Hospital has been dedicated to the art of healing by providing exceptional care to the greater Baltimore area. Built on a strong foundation of excellent medical care and compassion, Saint Agnes is committed to providing the best care for our patients for many years to come.