ExitCare ImageA lumpectomy is a form of "breast conserving" or "breast preservation" surgery. It may also be referred to as a partial mastectomy. During a lumpectomy, the portion of the breast that contains the cancerous tumor or breast mass (the lump) is removed. Some normal tissue around the lump may also be removed to make sure all the tumor has been removed. This surgery should take 40 minutes or less.


  • Any allergies you have.

  • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.

  • Previous problems you or members of your family have had with the use of anesthetics.

  • Any blood disorders you have.

  • Previous surgeries you have had.

  • Medical conditions you have.


Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, as with any procedure, complications can occur. Possible complications include:

  • Bleeding.

  • Infection.

  • Pain.

  • Temporary swelling.

  • Change in the shape of the breast, particularly if a large portion is removed.


  • Ask your health care provider about changing or stopping your regular medicines.

  • Do not eat or drink anything for 7–8 hours before the surgery or as directed by your health care provider. Ask your health care provider if you can take a sip of water with any approved medicines.

  • On the day of surgery, your healthcare provider will use a mammogram or ultrasound to locate and mark the tumor in your breast. These markings on your breast will show where the cut (incision) will be made.


  • An IV tube will be put into one of your veins.

  • You may be given medicine to help you relax before the surgery (sedative). You will be given one of the following:

  • A medicine that numbs the area (local anesthesia).

  • A medicine that makes you go to sleep (general anesthesia).

  • Your health care provider will use a kind of electric scalpel that uses heat to minimize bleeding (electrocautery knife).

  • A curved incision (like a smile or frown) that follows the natural curve of your breast is made, to allow for minimal scarring and better healing.

  • The tumor will be removed with some of the surrounding tissue. This will be sent to the lab for analysis. Your health care provider may also remove your lymph nodes at this time if needed.

  • Sometimes, but not always, a rubber tube called a drain will be surgically inserted into your breast area or armpit to collect excess fluid that may accumulate in the space where the tumor was. This drain is connected to a plastic bulb on the outside of your body. This drain creates suction to help remove the fluid.

  • The incisions will be closed with stitches (sutures).

  • A bandage may be placed over the incisions.


  • You will be taken to the recovery area.

  • You will be given medicine for pain.

  • A small rubber drain may be placed in the breast for 2–3 days to prevent a collection of blood (hematoma) from developing in the breast. You will be given instructions on caring for the drain before you go home.

  • A pressure bandage (dressing) will be applied for 1–2 days to prevent bleeding. Ask your health care provider how to care for your bandage at home.