What You Need to Know About Breast Biopsies

Once a breast lump or abnormality has been detected, your doctor may want you to have a breast biopsy. A biopsy is the only way to achieve an accurate diagnosis of a breast problem.

Approximately 1 million breast biopsies are performed each year; 60 to 80 percent show benign (non-cancerous) results. This means that up to 80 percent of the patients who undergo a biopsy will not need to have breast surgery.

The Breast Imaging team at BIDMC performs these minimally invasive breast biopsy procedures in order to further assess abnormalities seen on mammogram, breast ultrasound and breast MRI:

How to Prepare for Your Biopsy

Patients generally tolerate breast biopsies very well, as a numbing agent is used, but you may feel some pressure during the procedure. Let our specialists know if you feel any pain or if there is anything we can do to help make you more comfortable.

  • Due to an increased risk of bleeding during and after biopsies, you may need to stop using blood thinning medications beforehand.
    • Call us at 617-754-9500 at least one week before your biopsy if you current take aspirin, NSAIDS (Motrin, Advil, or Aleve), Heparin, Coumadin or Plavix.
  • Do not use deodorant or lotion beforehand: these can show up as specks on breast images, making it more difficult to locate the area of concern.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit that you can change out of easily.
  • Bring or wear a soft bra or a sports bra for additional comfort.
  • You will be able to drive yourself home or take public transportation, but you may still want to bring someone with you for support.

After Your Biopsy

After your tissue sample is obtained, a small titanium clip is placed in the breast to help identify the biopsy site in the future. You will not be able to see or feel the clip. Once inserted, you will have a mammogram to ensure that the clip is in the right spot.

  • In most cases, there will be no scar from the biopsy procedure. Any bruising on your breast afterwards is temporary.
  • To treat any discomfort, you can use ice and take a pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, if needed.
  • It is okay to shower the following day, but avoid baths and hot tubs.
  • Wear and sleep in a soft bra for the next 24 to 36 hours for extra comfort.
  • Refrain from strenuous activity/exercise for at least one day.