What are the potential risks and side effects from surgery?

There are several potential side effects from surgery. Talk with your surgeon.

Pain and tenderness

  • You may experience pain and tenderness from surgery. This is normal, as you just had surgery! Depending on your surgery, you may be able to manage your pain with over-the-counter pain relievers. Or, your surgeon may write a prescription for stronger pain medication. Ask your doctor which medication to take following your surgery.
  • Ice may help with bruising or swelling.


  • One of the potential risks of a sentinel lymph node biopsy is lymphedema. In a sentinel node biopsy, your surgeon will remove one or more lymph nodes. This may cause some lymphatic fluid to leak, causing a lymphedema. This may make your arm swell.

Reduced Nipple Sensation

  • You may potentially have reduced nipple sensation following surgery. There are several reasons this may happen. Ask your breast surgeon and plastic surgeon.

Cancer Recurrence

  • Though rare, your cancer may come back after surgery. This is called recurrence.