For most breast procedures, radiology is required on the day or a few days prior. This ensures that the surgeon knows the correct area which should be removed. Often small markers, called V-markers, are placed by radiologists to mark areas that are concerning at the time of biopsies or prior to starting chemotherapy. Occasionally, an MRI scan is done on the day of breast surgery.
Prepare your body
You can exercise but watch your supplement intake as some can cause an increase in bleeding. Some unitshave a prehab specialist who will explain about correct post-operative bras and movement around surgery. Today we don’t advise shaving pre-breast surgery; if needed this can be done when you are sleeping.
Prepare your packing
What to pack: front button-up outfits; charger for your phone; battery packs; something to read or listen to as there is a lot of hurry-up-and-wait-time.
Prepare your home
Who is looking after your pets, home, cooking meals and driving? This may not be possible for a time post-surgery.
Administration and paperwork
Ensure that the codes that have been used are explained to you. Be careful of doctors over-coding: you have the right to question and ask. Do your admission the day before breast surgery to make the day of surgery less stressful.
- C50.9: Malignant neoplasm of the breast
- D50.9: Duct carcinoma in situ
- 0324: Lumpectomy and axillary sampling
- 0325: Simple mastectomy
- 0327: Mastectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy
- 0329: Mastectomy and axillary sampling
- 1439: Sentinel lymph node biopsy
- 1449: Axillary dissection or sampling
- A pre-anaesthetic consult will be done a few days before surgery to ensure that all potential risks are assessed.
- Your marker that was placed earlier will be located on the day of surgery. Today magnetic markers and other devises are used to find the marker.
- Dressings and drain removals (if you have a drain) are done in the dressing clinic. This ensures best sterility and lowest potential infection rates.
- Do and don’ts will be explained to you; the general rule is don’t drive with drains in.
- A detailed do and don’ts from your reconstructive surgeon will be provided if you have a reconstructive procedure.
- Your pain medication requirements and post-operative medications are tailored for you.
- Your drains may be in for less or more time than another patient.
Prof Carol-Ann Benn heads up an internationally accredited, multi-disciplinary breast cancer centre at Netcare Milpark Hospital. She lectures at Wits University and, in 2002, established the Breast Health Foundation.
Header image by Freepik