Preparing for your Procedure
Based on their years of caring for patients with cancer, our staff at Northern Westchester Hospital has developed this information to help you prepare for your surgical procedure.
Please review the information below. Many of our patients find this information helpful to increase comfort level with the upcoming surgery and to help better prepare. Please remember, each procedure is unique. Please be sure to review the details of your upcoming procedure with your doctor. Also, make a list of questions to ask your doctor.
The morning of the surgery, please come to The Institute of Aesthetic Surgery, located upstairs from The Breast Institute, on the 2nd floor of the North Building. Please feel free to bring close family and friends if you’d like.
We care for you as if you are family, and are extremely sensitive to the particular needs of women who go through this experience. Our holistic approach enables us to treat you as a whole, feeling person and not just as someone who needs to be tested or “fixed.” We also understand the concerns of your loved ones.
Upon arrival, a well-trained female concierge will escorted you into a private room. Here you will be able to change your clothes, sign consent forms, confirm the last time you took your medications, and review the procedure once again. Your vital signs will also be taken at this time. The concierge is extremely knowledgeable about all the procedures you will undergo, and is available to stay with you every step of the way.
Imagine a surgical experience at most other hospitals: patients are put on a gurney and wheeled from a common waiting room into the operating room. All along, they are subjected to the various unfamiliar sights and sounds of a busy operating room, adding to feelings of helplessness and stress just before surgery.
At The Breast Institute, you are able to remain with your friends and family in a quiet, private room until it’s time for surgery. Then, you may walk into the operating room, without a gurney, promoting a feeling of control, dignity and strength.
As part of the effort to create a relaxing, holistic environment, you are encouraged to bring favorite family photos or iPods filled with your favorite music. You are even allowed to wear headphones with relaxing and healing music while in the operating room.
A pre-operative mammogram, ultrasound, or MRI may be performed before a breast preserving operation so the surgeons can pinpoint exactly where the cancer is located.
You will then be escorted by the concierge to rejoin your family members and/or friends in a private room, where you can discuss all the details of the procedure with your surgeon and what to expect post-surgery.
You will then be guided to the operating suite at The Breast Institute, where you will be introduced to the anesthesiologist and to the operating room nurse. You will have a final opportunity to speak with your surgeon about any final questions or concerns prior to your procedure.
During surgery, a sentinel lymph node biopsy is usually performed. This biopsy helps surgeons to determine whether lymph nodes are involved and if it will affect your surgery.
If you’ve undergone breast-preserving surgery, you will typically have a 23-hour hospital stay, including one overnight. If you’ve had a more extensive mastectomy or reconstructive surgery, your stay will usually be 1 to 2 days. Bi-literal tram surgery requires a 3 to 4 day hospital stay maximum.
If you’ve had breast surgery, you will usually go home with drains; a nurse will train you (or a close family member) how to manage the drains and dressing.
Pain management is comprehensive. Senior level anesthesiologists at The Breast Institute are extensively trained in techniques custom-tailored for patients undergoing breast surgeries. Post-operatively, you will use a pain pump, a device which instills local anesthesia over a period of 72 hours post-operatively.
Finally, while recovering from surgery, breast cancer patients often have many visitors. While patient support is greatly encouraged, it is important to realize that you truly need your rest after a major surgery (mastectomy and a mastectomy combined with lymph node surgery and breast reconstruction). Many women are so used to being caretakers that it is often second nature for them, in the presence of loved ones, to want to meet their visitors’ needs rather than listening to the needs of their own bodies as they heal from surgery and anesthesia. For this reason, we encourage relatives and friends to be sensitive to your need to rest.