Checklist: Axillary Lymph Node Dissection With or Without Lumpectomy

Share
Time to Read: About 3 minutes

This information outlines what to do and expect before and after your axillary lymph node dissection or lumpectomy and axillary lymph node dissection.

Follow your care team’s instructions while you’re getting ready for and recovering from surgery. Read the resources About Your Lumpectomy and Axillary Surgery and Hand and Arm Guidelines After Your Axillary Lymph Node Dissection.

Back to top

Getting Ready for Your Surgery

What to do

  • Set up a MyMSK account if you haven’t already. Visit www.mskcc.org/pe/enroll_mymsk for instructions.
  • Complete a Health Care Proxy form. You can find it online at www.health.ny.gov/publications/1430.pdf or ask a member of your care team for a copy.
  • Identify your caregiver.
  • Arrange for someone to take you home after surgery.
  • Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for taking medications.

What to buy

  • Buy a 4% chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) solution antiseptic skin cleanser, such as Hibiclens®.
  • Buy 325-milligram acetaminophen tablets (such as Tylenol® Regular Strength).

Presurgical Testing (PST) appointment

  • Bring a list of all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you take.
  • Bring any important medical notes or results from tests done outside of MSK. (If your MSK care team already has them, you don’t need to bring them.)
Back to top

1 Day Before Your Surgery

A staff member will call you between and They’ll tell you what time to arrive for your surgery. If your surgery is on Monday, they’ll call you on the Friday before. If you don’t get a call by , call 212-639-5014.

Eating and drinking

  • Do not eat anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes hard candy and gum.
  • You can drink a total of 12 ounces of water between midnight and 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time. Do not drink anything else.

Taking your medications

  • Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.

Showering

  • Shower in the evening.
    • Wash your hair, face, and genital area as usual.
    • Wash from your neck to your feet with 4% CHG solution. Avoid your head and genital area.
    • Dry yourself with a clean towel. Don’t use lotion, cream, deodorant, makeup, powder, perfume, or cologne afterward.
Back to top

The Day of Your Surgery

Eating and drinking

  • Do not eat anything.
  • Do not drink anything starting 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time. This includes water.

Taking your medications

  • Take only the medications your healthcare provider told you to take. Take them with a small sip of water.

Showering

  • Shower before your surgery. Follow the same steps you did the night before.

Things to remember

  • If you use contact lenses, wear glasses instead.
  • Remove any metal objects and jewelry, including body piercings.
  • Leave valuable items at home.
  • Wear a button-down or loose-fitting top and flat, safe shoes for walking.
  • Bring your Health Care Proxy form and other advance directives, if you’ve filled them out.
Back to top

In the Hospital After Your Surgery

Learning to care for yourself at home

  • Meet with your nurse to review:
    • How to manage your pain
    • How to take care of your drain(s) and incision(s)
    • How to shower
    • When you’ll be able to drive
  • Review arm exercises to do at home.

Getting ready for discharge

  • Make sure you have a responsible care partner to take you home.
Back to top

At Home

Remember to follow your care team’s instructions while you’re recovering from your surgery.

Taking your medications

  • Take your medication as directed and as needed.
  • Don’t drive or drink alcohol while you’re taking prescription pain medication.

Caring for your drain(s)

  • Empty your drain(s) in the morning and evening. Milk the tubing each time. Follow the instructions in the resource Caring for Your Jackson-Pratt Drain.
  • Follow your breast surgeon’s instructions for when to call their office to schedule your drain removal.

Showering

  • You can shower 24 hours after your surgery.

Exercise and physical activity

Sexual activity

  • You can start sexual activity when you feel ready.
Back to top

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

Call your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever above 101°F (38.3 °C)
  • The skin around your incision(s) is redder or warmer than usual
  • You have increased discomfort in the area of your surgery
  • There’s drainage from your incision(s)
  • Your arm or the area around your incision(s) is starting to swell or getting more swollen
  • You have trouble breathing
  • You have any questions or concerns
Back to top

Tell us what you think

Tell us what you think

Your feedback will help us improve the educational information we provide. Your care team cannot see anything you write on this feedback form. Please do not use it to ask about your care. If you have questions about your care, contact your healthcare provider.

While we read all feedback, we cannot answer any questions. Please do not write your name or any personal information on this feedback form.

Questions Yes Somewhat No

Last Updated