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How long does it take to recover from breast cancer surgery?

Recovery time from breast cancer surgery will primarily depend on what type of surgery you elect to undergo. Generally, breast conservation surgery is a quicker recovery when compared to mastectomy with reconstruction. Other factors will also play a role such as your activity level and overall health prior to surgery.

Dr. Elisa R. Port, MD
Surgical Oncologist

Recovery times can vary after breast cancer surgery. In this video I explain what can affect how long it takes to recover from surgery.

It varies depending on which operation you choose. Some women who choose breast-conserving treatment will be nearly back to normal in as quick as one to two days. If you choose a total mastectomy, and you have to have all of your lymph nodes removed, the recovery time can be longer. It can take anywhere from two to three, sometimes even four weeks.

Breast reconstruction with a tissue flap takes the longest to recover from: not only does the breast site have to heal, but also the donor site where the flap came from.

It depends on the type of breast cancer surgery you had. If you had a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy alone, it could be one to two weeks for recovery. If you had a mastectomy with reconstruction, recovery could take four to eight weeks, depending on the type of reconstruction.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.