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Discharge Instructions for Lymph Node Biopsy

One or more lymph nodes were removed. The removed lymph nodes may be sent for testing. Home care will help the area heal and decrease the risk of infection.

Steps to Take

Home Care

To care for the biopsy area and prevent infection:

  • You may go home with a dressing. Follow your doctor's instructions on when you can remove the bandage.
  • Keep the biopsy area clean and dry. Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
  • If you go home with a drain in place, follow your doctor's instructions on how to empty the drain and keep track of the amount of drainage.

You may be given other instructions depending on the site of your biopsy. For example, you may be asked to avoid using deodorant if your biopsy site is under your arm.

Physical Activity

Do not put extra pressure or strain on the surgery area. For example, if you had a biopsy under your arm, avoid lifting until it heals.

Return to normal activity slowly, once the doctor has said it is safe to do so.

Ask your doctor when you will be able to return to work. Do not drive unless your doctor has said it is okay.


Over-the-counter or prescription medicine can help to manage pain.

When taking medicine:

  • Take the medicine as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
  • Do not share your prescription medicine.
  • Medicine can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than 1 medicine, including over-the-counter products and supplements.

If you had to stop medicine before the procedure, ask your doctor when you can start again.


Your doctor will need to check on your progress and discuss the results of tests. It is important to go to any recommended appointments.

Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occur

Contact your doctor if you are not healing as expected or you have problems such as:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
  • Worsening symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians

National Cancer Institute


Canadian Cancer Society

Health Canada


Lumpectomy & lymph node evaluation. St. John Health website. Available at: http://www.stjohnprovidence.org/breastcare/post-op/Lumpectomy. Accessed March 15, 2020.

Last reviewed January 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole S. Meregian, PA  Last Updated: 11/4/2020