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Outpatient Breast Biopsy

A breast biopsy is a surgical procedure that removes a sample of tissue that you and your physician have identified as an abnormality that needs to be identified under the microscope.p>

Risks of the Procedure

Complications are usually rare, but can include infection and bleeding at or in the biopsy area.

Because we are removing a part of your breast tissue, the overall look, shape, and size of your breast can be affected. We find this in our experience to be minimal, if at all, but is a factor to be aware of. A scar will be present. The exact length of the scar is usually between 1 and 2 inches but will vary with the size of the lump nad how deep in the breast it is located.

Swelling and bruising are very typical of any operation on the breast, good bra support can be helpful.

When to Call

Please call if you develop

  • A temperature greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Bleeding from the incision that with 20 minutes of pressure and ice will not stop
  • Rapid or unusual swelling of the breast

Before the Procedure

Avoid the use of aspirin or aspirin containing products, non-steroidal medications such as Advil or Motrin (Ibuprofen) and Aleve (naprosen) one week prior to the surgery date. Also avoid the use of Vitamin E supplements, the use of a daily multi-vitamin is okay.

Please notify your surgeon if you are taking blood thinning medications like Coumadin (warfarin) or Plavix prior to scheduling the procedure.

Shower as usual the day of the surgery.

You will be given special instructions about eating or drinking before the procedure.

You will need to arrange someone to drive you home after the procedure.

Wear a comfortable two-piece outfit. We recommend coming with a supportive bra (sports bra) to wear home immediately following surgery and throughout your recovery.

Overview of the Procedure

This surgical procedure will be done as an outpatient. You will be asked to arrive anywhere between 1-3 hours prior to the scheduled procedure. The surgeon will use a local anesthetic to numb the area, along with IV sedation, to make you comfortable. The breast area is cleansed with a disinfectant solution and then a cut (incision) is made over the area of concern. The lump is removed and sent to a pathologist for review under a microscope. The incision is then closed with absorbable material so no stitches need to be removed. A dressing is placed over the biopsy site and you are sent to the recovery room to allow the anesthesia to wear off. The overall length of the procedure is half hour to 45 minutes.

After the Procedure

You will be given specific discharge instructions the day of surgery.

You may have a bulky dressing on. Leave this on for the first 24 hours. You may then take that off and you will see that you have steri-strips underneath. Leave these on until they fall off or until your follow-up appointment. It is okay to shower with these on.

Showering the next day is OK. Avoid hot tubs, pools, or the bathtub for at least 7–10 days.

Generally, we recommend a supportive bra be worn the first few days and nights after the biopsy. This will minimize swelling and bleeding which will decrease pain.

Many patients return to work/normal activity the next day without any limitations. Some patients find limiting the activities that involve heavy lifting or strenuous arm movements helpful.

Usually a prescription for pain medication will be given to you that day. You should not drive while on prescription pain medications.

Applying ice to the biopsy site, on and off, for the first 1-2 days can help minimize swelling that might occur.

A follow-up appointment to see your doctor 5-7 days after your procedure is recommended. Please call the office is this has not yet been scheduled. It is at this time that the pathology from the surgery will be discussed.


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National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC)

The St. John Providence Breast Care Program is fully accredited by the American College of Surgeons. Our Breast Care Program was first accredited in 2009 and was just reaccredited in 2012. We are one of just nine programs in Michigan accredited through the NAPBC.


The St. John Providence Health System Breast Care Program is here for you. If you are a woman under or uninsured and need a mammogram we may be able to help. Call our Cancer Care Coordinators for more information at 1-866-246-4673.

Our position on the importance of mammography

St. John Providence Health System Breast Care Program is strongly opposed to the new recommendations from the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF). Our breast program will continue to follow the guidelines set forth by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the American Cancer Society (ACS).