What Is the Typical Lumpectomy Procedure?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 24 June 2019
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A lumpectomy procedure is a type of surgery designed to remove a small amount of breast tissue while preserving the breast itself. This procedure is commonly used to test for cancer and can also be used to remove lumps that are found to contain cancerous cells. In most cases, the lumpectomy procedure is performed under general anesthesia, meaning that the patient is completely sedated and unaware of the surgery until after it is over. A heated scalpel is used to cut out the lump and helps to prevent excessive bleeding. Any individualized questions or concerns about the lumpectomy procedure should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

When a lump is found in the breast that is thought to be potentially cancerous, a doctor may decide to perform a lumpectomy procedure. This type of surgery may be used to remove a small amount of breast tissue for further testing. In many cases, the entire lump is removed in an effort to remove the cancerous growth before it has time to spread to surrounding tissue and lymph nodes.


The patient is normally placed under general anesthesia for the lumpectomy procedure, although a local anesthetic may be used in some cases. When general anesthesia is used, the patient will usually spend one night in the hospital so that the medical staff can watch for any potential signs of developing complications. In cases where a local anesthetic is used, the patient can normally go home the same day.

After the anesthesia has been given, the lumpectomy procedure can begin. A heated scalpel is used to make an incision in the breast. The heated scalpel helps to effectively cut away the tumor and prevents excessive bleeding during the procedure. The lump is then removed with the heated scalpel, along with a healthy margin of tissue. Then the lump and surrounding tissue are prepared to be sent to a lab for further evaluation and testing.

Depending on the individual situation, a drainage tube may be placed into the surgical wound for a day or so. The incision is then closed with staples or stitches and covered with sterile gauze. The patient is then moved to a recovery area where the medical staff can monitor for any possible signs of complications, such as excessive bleeding or negative reactions to the anesthesia. Once the patient has stabilized and there are no signs of developing complications, the doctor will provide instructions regarding proper wound care at home.



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