Does Having a Breast Biopsy Hurt?

Jan 08, 2024
Does Having a Breast Biopsy Hurt?
The prospect of a breast biopsy can be frightening, especially if you haven’t had one before. However, the procedure itself usually involves little discomfort. If you need a breast biopsy, here’s what you can expect.

It’s easy to assume the worst when you’re told you need a breast biopsy. After all, doctors use these tests to diagnose cancer. However, biopsies are very common, and approximately 80% of results are noncancerous. 

Still, it’s natural to face a breast biopsy with trepidation.

Dr. Jennifer Beatty understands the worries people face from an abnormal mammogram or concerning breast symptoms. But you can count on Dr. Beatty and our team at The Breast Place to act as trusted guides so you understand exactly what to expect every step of the way. Here’s what you should know.

Breast biopsy basics

A breast biopsy can seem scary, but it’s the best way to get to the bottom of suspicious tissue in this area. To do this, breast experts like Dr. Beatty use a variety of biopsy methods based on the size, location, and other characteristics of the tissue requiring further examination.

Types of breast biopsies include:

  • Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy
  • Core needle biopsy
  • Vacuum-assisted core biopsy
  • Excisional breast biopsy (lumpectomy)
  • Incisional breast biopsy

Doctors can also use special digital imaging equipment during a breast biopsy, such as ultrasounds, MRIs, and mammography.

The simplest type of biopsy is an FNA, which uses a thin needle to collect a sample from the suspicious tissue. Other biopsies may require a small incision to access the site or surgery to remove some or all of the mass for examination.

What to expect during a breast biopsy

Whether you need an FNA or a more extensive biopsy, our team takes every precaution to ensure you don’t experience pain during the process. However, biopsies in dense breast tissue or behind the nipple can come with some discomfort.

In most cases, you only need a local anesthetic for your procedure. As a result, you may feel a pinch when Dr. Beatty administers the lidocaine. Once the area is numb, Dr. Beatty can move forward with your biopsy.

During the biopsy itself, you may feel a slight pressure. However, because you’re awake, Dr. Beatty can explain each stage of the biopsy as well as any sounds you hear. 

If you need a surgical biopsy with a larger incision, you typically receive general anesthesia along with the local anesthetic. That means you sleep peacefully the entire time, and you won’t feel a thing.

A breast biopsy can take anywhere from 20-60 minutes.

What to expect after a breast biopsy

The biopsy itself may be painless, but you could have some bruising, pain, swelling, or discomfort when the numbing agent wears off. 

If you undergo a nonsurgical biopsy, you can often go home with a bandage and ice pack. However, you should plan on resting for the day, and you may need nonaspirin pain relievers to manage your symptoms.

You can usually go home the same day following a surgical biopsy as well. However, these biopsies typically require stitches. In addition to nonaspirin pain relievers and an ice pack, our team can also provide instructions on caring for the incision site.

People can often resume most activities the next day. However, a surgical biopsy recovery can take a bit longer, depending on the size of the incision.

It can take several days for the lab to process your biopsy results. At that point, Dr. Beatty can discuss the findings and outline next steps.

Do you need a breast biopsy? Put yourself in compassionate, experienced, and skilled hands at The Breast Place. Contact our office in North Charleston, South Carolina, by calling 843-797-1941. You can also request an appointment online today.