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Women's Health

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Breast Biopsy


How It Is Done continued...

An open biopsy can be done using local or general anesthesia. If local anesthesia is used, you may also be given a sedative.

If you have general anesthesia, an intravenous (IV) line will be put in your arm to give you medication. You will not be awake during the biopsy.

After the breast is numb (or you are unconscious), your doctor makes a cut through the skin and into the breast tissue to the lump. If a small wire was placed using mammogram to mark the biopsy site, your doctor will take a biopsy from the area at the tip of the wire.

Stitches are used to close the skin, and a bandage is put on. You will be taken to a recovery room until you are fully awake. You can usually return to your normal activities the next day.

An open biopsy takes about 60 minutes.

How It Feels

You will feel only a quick sting from the needle if you have a local anesthetic to numb the biopsy area. You may feel some pressure when the biopsy needle is put in. After a fine-needle aspiration biopsycamera.gif, core needle biopsy, or stereotactic biopsycamera.gif, the site may be tender for 2 to 3 days. You may also have some bruising, swelling, or slight bleeding. You can use an ice pack or take an over-the-counter pain medicine (not aspirin) to help relieve swelling and mild pain.

For 24 hours after the biopsy, do not do any heavy lifting or other activities that stretch or pull the muscles of your chest.

If you have general anesthesia for an open breast biopsy, you will not be awake during the biopsy. After you wake up, the area may be numb from a local anesthetic that was put in the biopsy site. You will also feel sleepy for several hours.

For 1 to 2 days after an open biopsy, you may feel tired. You may also have a mild sore throat if a tube was used to help you breathe during the biopsy. Using throat lozenges and gargling with warm salt water may help with the sore throat.

After an open biopsy, your breast may feel tender, firm, swollen, and bruised. You can use an ice pack or take an over-the-counter pain medicine (not aspirin) to help relieve swelling and mild pain. The tenderness should go away in about a week, and the bruising fades within 2 weeks. But the firmness and swelling may last for 6 to 8 weeks. You should wear a bra or sports bra for support for 2 to 3 days after the biopsy. Do not do any heavy lifting or other activities that stretch or pull the muscles of your chest.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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