Some time after your operation you will be visited on the ward by a hospital doctor to check that all is well.
Before you are discharged from hospital, the nursing staff will need to be sure that you will be able to manage. If you do not have help at home, and you are concerned about managing on your own, do tell one of the nurses before your operation so that some arrangement can be made for you. For some people, such as students who are returning alone to student accommodation, or elderly women who live on their own, a longer stay in hospital may be necessary until they are better able to cope.
By the time you are discharged from hospital you should have only slight pain or discomfort, your wound will be healing, and any drains will have been removed.
You should not drive yourself home after your operation, and should probably avoid driving for at least 2 weeks. Your car insurance is likely to be invalid for at least 48 hours after a general anesthetic: you may feel all right, but your reactions in an emergency would be slower than normal.
Even if you have not had a general anesthetic, do not drive until you are sure you can make an emergency stop without being hindered by pain from your wound. If you are in any doubt, your GP will be able to advise you about this.
Before you leave hospital you will be given a letter to take to your GP’s surgery. This will contain a report of the operation and anything your GP may need to know about your treatment, and should be delivered as soon as possible – on your way home from hospital if this is feasible. The letter may be posted to your GP if you leave hospital before it has been written.
Follow-up clinic visits
Before you leave the hospital, nursing staff will arrange your next clinic visit – within a week or two of your operation. Time will be allowed for the results to be received from the examination of your breast tissue which always follows an operation on the breast.
If the stitches in your wound are non-absorbable, these will either be removed at the clinic visit or, if nursing staff think your wound will have healed sufficiently beforehand, you will be asked to make an appointment at your health centre or GP’s surgery so that they can be removed there.
Although the anxiety you and your family will feel while you await this next visit to the clinic is well understood by the nursing and medical staff, they must be sure that the results from the laboratory will have been received first.
Visit from the breast care nurse
If your hospital has a specialist breast care nurse, she will visit you on the ward before you leave. Do tell her if you are concerned about anything, or if there is anything you do not understand. She may be able to arrange a date to visit you at home if you would like her to do so, and will probably continue to see you as often as necessary, either at home or in her clinic.