How long is a typical recovery from lumpectomy versus mastectomy? If lymph nodes are also removed, does recovery take longer?
A typical recovery from a lumpectomy is quite short. Patients go home the same day, and may resume normal activities within a day or two. Usually they will be told to avoid strenuous activity involving the upper body for a few weeks. A mastectomy can be done as an outpatient procedure, at least according to Medicare guidelines, but all of my patients spend at least one night in the hospital. After a mastectomy, the patient will have drains in place for about a week, and will usually benefit from some physical therapy so that they don’t develop a frozen shoulder. The usual lymph node biopsy done to stage breast cancer typically doesn’t add a lot of time or pain to the recovery.