Advanced Breast Care Close to Home

When a mammogram, ultrasound, or MRI finds a suspicious lump in your chest, and a biopsy confirms it is cancerous, you will likely be told you need surgery. If there is one word that can best describe the overall feeling after this diagnosis, it’s “uncertainty.”

What is my best treatment option? How is my body going to change? How will my family handle the finances? Will I ever get better?

At Surgical Associates, our goal is to ease that anxiety through compassionate care and patient education. We are at forefront of research in breast cancer and look to provide a patient-centered approach to treatment.

Surgical Associates focuses on using a collaborative, multi-expert approach to breast cancer care.  Dr. Cecilia Stroede, the area’s only fellowship-trained breast surgeon, will work closely with your personal physician and an experienced breast cancer team of radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, genetic counselors, and plastic surgeons.

We recognize there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for breast cancer. Our focus is always on the individual needs of every patient, paying close attention to emotional care and quality of life concerns. Our team strives to provide accessibility and will answer all questions to help you make an empowered and informed treatment decision.

Through Surgical Associates, the latest breast cancer treatment options are available to you right within the Wausau community.

The better prepared you are for your breast surgery, the more successful your recovery is likely to be. While planning ahead for your surgery, be sure to:

  • Tell your doctor about any medications you are currently taking.
  • Provide a full medical history.
  • Stop eating or drinking after 10 p.m. the night before surgery.
  • Take off all jewelry, and remove piercings and nail polish before you leave for the hospital.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home following your surgery.
  • Pack loose-fitting clothing, post-surgical bras or compression garments your surgeon suggests, as well as pillows to make the ride home more comfortable.

When breast surgery is needed, you will be put under anesthesia, and the cancerous area of the breast and marginal tissues will be removed. Your surgery will be determined by the stage of the cancer, your age and general health, and your menopausal status.

The most common types of breast surgeries conducted are breast-conserving surgery and mastectomies.

Breast-Conserving Surgery

Breast-conserving surgery is the preferred treatment in early-stage breast cancer. Lumpectomy and partial mastectomy are the two most common breast-conserving surgeries.

Breast-Conserving Procedures

  • Lumpectomy: Removal of a breast lump and some of the tissue surrounding it
  • Partial mastectomy: Removal of the area of the breast that contains cancer, some of the tissue surrounding the tumor, and the lining of the chest wall below the tumor

Because the location and size of tumors differs from one patient to another, the amount of tissue removed during surgery will vary.

The lymph nodes under the arm may also be removed during breast-conserving surgery. If cancer is found within those lymph nodes, additional lymph nodes may be removed.


Mastectomies involve the removal of the entire breast and sometimes nearby tissues if it appears the cancer has spread. A double mastectomy involves the removal of both breasts.

Mastectomy Procedures

  • Total Mastectomy: Removal of the whole breast
  • Modified Radical Mastectomy: Removal of the whole breast and most of the lymph nodes under the arm

In some circumstances, based on the location of the tumor and other factors, the patient is given the option to have a nipple-sparing mastectomy. This will leave the nipple, areola, and skin over the breast.

Your breast surgery should take around two to three hours depending on the surgery you require. You will be informed of all the goals, risks, benefits, and reconstructive options prior to your surgery.

Following your breast surgery, you will wake up in the recovery room where a nurse will be able to help with any pain or nausea you may experience.

What to expect after breast-conserving surgery

Many patients are able to go home the same day of their surgery. Others may need to stay in the hospital for a day or two. You should be able to perform normal activities within a few days. Recovery time depends on the patient’s health and method of surgery used. 

If radiation therapy is part of your treatment plan, it cannot be started until your wound has healed. This typically takes at least two weeks.

What to expect after a mastectomy

Upon waking up from surgery, you will find a bandage over the surgery site as well as one or two drainage tubes. If the tubes are still required when you go home, your nurse will teach you proper technique for continued care. Most patients are able to return home within 24 hours of their surgery.

Steps for healing at home:

  • Take your prescriptions/pain medications as directed.
  • Clean your drain(s) regularly if you have any.
  • After drains are removed, wait at least a week to shave or wear deodorant.
  • Take care of your incisions as instructed.
  • Exercise, but avoid lifting above 10 lbs or doing repetitive arm motions.
  • Wait to resume driving until 10 to 14 days following surgery.

You will need to come in for follow-up appointments after surgery to check the status of recovery. Your doctor will also recommend conducting breast self-exams following surgery to detect any changes or growths.

If you experience excessive pain, a fever of 101 or higher, lots of swelling or redness near your incision, or excessive drainage from your incision, call Surgical Associates immediately.

Will my insurance cover my surgery?

  • Call your insurance company and let them know that you are having surgery, what kind of surgery and the date of your surgery. They will give you a summary of your benefits.
  • If your surgery is elective, preauthorization may need to be obtained and Surgical Associates will submit the required information for preauthorization. Surgery will not be scheduled until we know that we have that preauthorization. Whether or not surgery is elective or not, Surgical Associates will contact your insurance to make sure precertification has been obtained.

What will be my arrival time for surgery?
The timing of your procedure is not figured out until the day before so you will receive instructions from your surgeon’s off What kind of prep will I need before my procedure?

This depends on the type of procedure you are having. Some procedures will require a bowel prep, other procedures require just nothing to eat or drink after midnight, and other procedures require just showering with an antibacterial soap the night before and the morning of surgery. Your surgeon’s office will give you these instructions when your surgery is scheduled.

Will I need to stay in the hospital overnight or go home the same day?
This depends on the type of surgery you have. Your surgeon will advise you on what to expect in this regard.

What about my medications? Will I need to stop any of them before surgery?
Bring your medications to your appointment with you so we can confirm what medications you are taking and advise you on how to take each medication before and after surgery. Blood thinners, for example, may have to be stopped for a period of time prior to surgery.

Will I need a driver?
Yes. Most procedures we do require an anesthetic of some type. However, if you do not have anesthetic, it would not be a bad idea to have someone come with you anyway. Some people get tense during their procedure and become shaky afterwards, even after a minor procedure. We would rather you get home safely instead of taking any chances.

How long will I be off of work?
The amount of time off of work depends on the type of surgery that you have. Your surgeon and appropriate office staff will guide you on the expected time off.

Will I have any restrictions after surgery?

  1.  Depends on the type of surgery you have. You may have lifting restrictions for a short period of time, or eating restrictions, or shower/bathing restrictions.
  2.  You will not be allowed to drive if you are taking any narcotics or medications that would inhibit driving safely.

Will I see my surgeon after surgery?
Yes. You will have a postop appointment 1, 2 or 3 weeks after surgery so we can check your incisions and make sure you are healing well and as expected.

What I have forms that need to be completed for my employer or disability company?
Surgical Associates has specific staff who will take care of filling out those forms. Bring the forms with you to your appointment. Make sure you have filled out your portion of the forms and signed wherever you are required to before handing them in. Also, make sure your name and date of birth on those forms and instructions on where to send the forms when they are completed by the office staff.

When can I drive after surgery?
After surgery you will be sore and have some limited mobility. Once you are completely off of any narcotic pain medications and once you feel that you can quickly slam on the brake if you needed to, you can drive. Your surgeon will advise you on what to expect for the timing of this.