Post-Breast Cancer Surgery Recovery Tips: What to Expect After Your Operation

By Dr. Sajjan Rajpurohit in Breast Cancer

Nov 30 , 2022 | 3 min read

After the operation, there will be some restrictions and discomfort, and it will take time for you to heal. Read this article to know what to expect as you recover and how best to handle your situation.

Types of Breast Cancer Surgery

There are several types of breast cancer surgery, each with its recovery timeline. The most common type of surgery is a lumpectomy, which involves removing tumours and a small margin of healthy tissue around them. A mastectomy involves removing the entire breast. Recovery from a lumpectomy usually takes 4-6 weeks, while healing from a mastectomy can take up to 8 weeks.

After any breast cancer surgery, you can expect some pain and discomfort. Pain medication will be prescribed to help you manage this. You will also have drains to remove excess fluid from the surgical site. These drains will be removed after 1-2 weeks.

You can expect some swelling and bruising after your surgery. This will gradually improve over the next few weeks. It is necessary to avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting during this time to allow your body to heal properly.

Once you feel better, there are some things that you can do at home to help with recovery. Getting plenty of rest, eating a healthy diet, and regular exercise will help you recover quickly and prevent complications such as infection or blood clots.

Tips for Post-Operative Recovery

After your breast cancer surgery, it is essential to take care of yourself and know what to expect during your recovery. Here are some tips for post-operative recovery:

  1. Get plenty of rest. Your body needs time to heal, so get plenty of rest.

  2. Take your pain medication as prescribed. You will likely have some discomfort after your surgery, so taking your pain medication as prescribed by your doctor is essential.

  3. Keep your incisions clean and dry. Be sure to clean your incisions and keep them dry according to the instructions given by your surgeon.

  4. Avoid strenuous activity. While you may be tempted to return to your normal activities immediately, it is important to avoid strenuous activity while healing from surgery.

  5. Follow up with your surgeon as scheduled. Be sure to follow up regularly with your surgeon so they can monitor your recovery and ensure that everything is healing properly.

Stages of post-surgery recovery

After your breast cancer surgery, you will likely go through different stages of recovery. Here are some things you can expect:

  1. Immediate recovery: This is the recovery period right after surgery. You will be in the hospital for a few days and closely monitored by your medical team. You may experience pain and swelling around your incision site(s) during this time. You will also likely have drains to help remove excess fluid from your body.

  2. Early recovery: This stage typically lasts for a few weeks after you leave the hospital. You will still have some pain and swelling, but it should start to lessen as time goes on. Your drains may also be removed during this time. You should take it easy and avoid strenuous activity as your body continues to heal.

  3. Late recovery: This is the final stage of recovery, which can last several months or longer. By this point, most of the pain and swelling should be gone. You should be able to resume your day-to-day activities, including exercise and other forms of physical activity.

Tips on eating after your operation

After your breast cancer surgery, you will likely have restrictions on what you can eat and drink. Your doctor or surgeon will give you specific instructions on what to eat and when after surgery. Here are some general tips on eating after your operation:

  • Start with clear liquids: water, broth, juices, soups, etc.

  • Gradually add in solid foods as tolerated. Start with soft foods like mashed potatoes, pudding, yoghurt, etc.

  • Avoid spicy, fried, or gas/gastric problem-producing foods, as these can cause discomfort.

  • Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to prevent dehydration.

If you have any questions or concerns about eating after breast cancer surgery, talk to your doctor or surgeon.


After breast cancer surgery, taking care of yourself physically and emotionally is important. Following these recovery tips can help you heal quickly and reduce your risk of complications. Remember to listen to your body and give yourself time to rest. With patience and care, you'll be back on your feet in no time.