How to recover from breast cancer surgery?Most women suffering from breast cancer will need some type of surgery. But doctors also try other types of treatment also.

Some of the kinds of surgery include:

  • Breast biopsy
  • Lumpectomy or breast conservation surgery
  • Mastectomy
  • Lymph node removal after biopsy
  • Breast reconstruction

All these affect the motion of your arm and shoulder and your daily activities like combing hair, bathing and dressing up. Stiffness and pain can cause weakness. The only respite is the low breast cancer surgery cost in India.


If you have been subject to general anesthesia, you will be taken to a recovery room after surgery. The staff in this room will keep tabs on your vital signs (breathing, heart rate, blood pressure) and waits for the point when you are stable and fully awake. In case you experience pain, you must inform the medical team treating you. The nurses will give you pain medication prescribed by the doctor.

One common sensation as you recover from anesthesia is that of feeling cold and you can request for a blanket. If you go home the same day after surgery, be prepared with a blanket for your trip home.

A Lumpectomy without lymph node dissection is often conducted on an out-patient basis. In this case, you can go home the same day after surgery. Lumpectomy with dissection of lymph node and Mastectomy are invasive surgeries and need a hospital stay.

During the hospital stay, nurses will aim for you to become as independent as possible. You will be urged to move on your own. This is due to medical evidence that those who try to move soon after surgery will recover faster.

A schedule suggested by the doctor includes:

  • Get out of bed on your own within few hours after surgery
  • Do arm exercises to prevent stiffness the morning following surgery
  • Get back to normal routine few days following lumpectomy and few weeks the following mastectomy.


Before you leave the hospital, you may discuss pathology report – results of the test on tissue removed. You may be scheduled a consultation with the medical team, for further discussions on the pathology report.

When you return home, try to take up a few physical activities daily. But avoid big tasks and take adequate rest. Your body needs energy and time for recovery. You must avoid lifting heavy items till full healing of wounds. You can resume normal routine within a few weeks, but the time will vary from person to person. You will be advised on this by breast care surgeon or nurse.


  • Keep moving: Lazing around and avoiding activity is not just bad for your state of mind, it enhances risk for deep vein thrombosis which can convert into a dangerous embolism in the lungs. Keep moving gently the arm on the side of the breast which has had surgery.
  • Be ready for pain: Most doctors will give you pain-relieving medication to deal with pain. Many patients will survive pain by taking extra strength Tylenol. Be prepared for more pain at night time.
  • Taking care of drains: To prevent swelling in the area around the surgery, the surgeon may install hoses for draining of fluids. Drains come out usually in one to two weeks. Patients who have undergone mastectomy will have one or two drains and an extra one, in case lymph nodes are removed.
  • Look out for Lymphedema: It is a common side-effect of mastectomy though it affects only 25% of cases. There is swelling of the arm on the side where lymph nodes have been removed. For this, you must consult the doctor.

These are some aspects of breast cancer surgery in India.  The cost of breast cancer surgery is relatively low and thus attracts medical tourists from all around the globe.

Imagre Credit: Cristianosoy


  1. Thank you so much for mentioning how it is recommended to do arm exercises the morning after having breast cancer surgery to avoid stiff muscles. It makes sense that taking the time to understand this can help you find the best way to get your mobility back after undertaking this surgery and make sure you get the results you need. A friend of mine was talking about how she needed to undertake breast cancer surgery, so I wanted to help her recover properly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *