Breast Surgical Biopsy
(Biopsy, Breast Surgical; Breast Open Biopsy; Biopsy, Breast Open; Breast Needle Localization; Localization, Breast Needle)
by Editorial Staff And Contributors
Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.
Breast surgical biopsy is when the doctor makes a cut in the breast to remove all or part of a mass. The mass is examined in a lab.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
Breast surgical biopsy is done to examine a suspicious area in the breast. It may be done if any of the following are found:
The biopsy can identify the area as either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Possible Complications TOP
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a biopsy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to the biopsy:
You may receive the following types of anesthesia:
Description of the Procedure TOP
There are different ways the doctor can remove the mass from your breast:
Open Breast Biopsy
You will be given either general or local anesthesia. The skin over the area will be cleaned. A small cut will be made over the area. A sample of the tissue or all of the mass will be removed. The site will be closed with stitches or staples. A bandage will be applied.
This technique will be used if the mass is too deep to be felt, but it can be seen with imaging tests. After the mass is located, a fine wire will be placed into your breast. The wire will point to the spot that needs to be biopsied. A small cut will be made in the area and the mass will be removed.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
Will It Hurt? TOP
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Post-procedure Care TOP
It will take about 2-5 days to receive your test results. Home care will include using medications or taking self-care measures to reduce discomfort. The care staff will give instructions on how to change any bandages. Doing this will help reduce the chance of infection. Don't return to normal activities until your doctor says it is okay to do so.
Call Your Doctor TOP
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications, such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
Canadian Cancer Society
Biopsy. Breast Cancer website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated September 17, 2012. Accessed January 22, 2013.
Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated December 17, 2013. Accessed January 22, 2013.
Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC. Procedures for Primary Care Physicians. St. Louis, MO: Mosby-Year Book; 1994.
Sabiston DC, Lyerly HK. Textbook of Surgery. 15th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Co.; 1997.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.