The operation is usually performed under general anaesthesia. If the cancer lesion in the breast is small and cannot be felt, wire localization is performed on the morning of the operation. The cancer is excised with the help of the wire. A radioactive tracer is also injected into the breast on the morning of the operation to detect sentinel lymph nodes. Sentinel lymph nodes may also be traced by using a blue dye, which may stain your urine blueish green. The lymph nodes taking up the tracer are removed as samples and sent to the pathologist for examination during the operation. If a metastasis is found, a wider axillary lymph node excision is performed, and a drain inserted into the wound.


You can move about as soon as you feel up to it after surgery. During your sick leave you should avoid strenuous physical exercise. To avoid swelling and problems with moving the shoulder joint, wear a firm bra and perform the exercises instructed by your physiotherapist. You will receive the instructions on discharge from hospital. Your breast nurse will call you within a few days after surgery.

Wound care

You can remove the thicker wound dressings and take a shower on the day after surgery. The wound is closed with absorbable stitches. The wound tape can be removed after one week. Going to the sauna, taking a bath, and swimming are allowed two weeks after surgery.

If a drain has been inserted, it can be removed at your own health centre according to your surgeon’s instructions, but not later than 7 days after surgery.

Pain management

A local anaesthetic agent is often injected into the wound area at the end of the operation to reduce postsurgical pain. You are recommended to take painkillers regularly for 1–4 days and after that when necessary.

Contact us

If you experience signs or symptoms of infection (increasing pain, heavy swelling, heat, redness, drainage of pus from the wound) or other problems, please contact the treating unit.

  • Day Surgery Unit
  • Accident & Emergency Clinic at other times
  • Your own health centre or occupational health unit  


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