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Breast Cancer Surgery

Frequently Asked Questions After Surgery

​When can I drive?

See the At Home​: Driving section.

When can I go back to work?

How long you’ll need to be off work is different for everyone. It will depend on your surgery, how you’re feeling in your body and mind as you recover, the type of work you do, and whether or not you need more treatments after surgery (e.g., chemotherapy). Your surgeon may be able to help you plan for time off in your situation, but your recovery time may be faster or slower than expected.

When can I shave or use hair removal products on the armpit where I had surgery?

While your incision is healing, don’t shave with a razor or use hair removal products under your affected arm. It’s important not to cut the skin (not even small cuts) while you’re healing.

When can I wear a bra?

Don’t wear any clothing that can cause pressure on or near your incisions until they’re fully healed. A sports bra or sports shirt may feel comfortable after surgery. See the At Home: Personal Care section for more information.

When can I wear a long-term prosthesis?

A long-term prosthesis is a removable breast form that fits in your bra cup. You should wait until all the swelling is gone before you’re fitted for a long-term prosthesis. It will give you a more comfortable fit. See the ​At Home: Prosthesis section for more information.

When can I swim?

You can swim in a private or public pool when your incisions are completely healed.

When can I play sports?

This will depend on your surgery and the type of sports you play. Talk to your surgeon about the sports you wish to play.

When can I lift more than 4.6 kg (10 lbs.)?

Your recovery will depend on your surgery. Ask your surgeon when you can lift things that weigh more than 4.6 kg (10 lbs.).

When can I do housework?

You may find light housework (example: dusting, sweeping, or doing dishes) can be a helpful way to move and get gentle exercise.

When will my drain(s) be removed?

A member of your healthcare team will remove your drain. Refer to the A​t Home: Drain Care section for more information.

When will I have a follow-up appointment with my surgeon?

Your follow-up appointment will depend on your expected recovery, the timing of your test results, and any follow-up treatment. This will be different for everyone. Confirm the date of your follow-up appointment with your healthcare team. If it’s been 2 weeks since your surgery, and you don’t have a follow-up appointment booked yet, call your surgeon.

When will I know my surgical pathology results?

Your surgeon will review your pathology and other test results at your follow-up appointment. These results are generally available within 14 days after surgery.

When can I have breast reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction may or may not be right for you. It depends on your health and the treatment of your cancer. You may need to wait for breast reconstruction surgery until all of your treatments are done. Ask your surgeon about your options.​​​​​​​​​

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