The Day of Surgery


Where do I check in?

  • When you get to the hospital, check in at the Surgical Services Registration Desk. It is in M Wing, Ground Floor, Room 502 (MG 502).
  • Bring your Ontario Health Card and your Sunnybrook card.
  • You will be given a locker space to store your clothes and personal items, such as eye glasses.

Please DO NOT bring:

  • Money
  • Jewelry

Please label with your name and contact information:

  • Cell phones
  • iPads or other electronic devices

The hospital will not take responsibility if they are lost or stolen.

How many family members or friends can come with me on the day of surgery?

  • Please bring ONLY 1 person with you to the hospital. Your companion will be asked to stay in the waiting room until you are ready for surgery. The person can then be with you until you are called for surgery.
  • During your surgery, your family member or friend can wait in room MG 502. 


Surgical times and dates are estimates only. Delays happen. Sometimes surgery cases are cancelled because there is someone else who needs emergency surgery. If this happens to you, you will be contacted by your surgeon's office and a new surgery date will be booked as soon as possible.

Operating Room

After registration, you will be taken to the Same Day Surgery Unit. Nurses will complete the final checks and an intravenous (IV) will be started in your hand. You will be then brought into the operating room.

What will happen during my surgery?

  • Several monitors will be placed on your body to check your heart and lungs during surgery.
  • You will be put to sleep using a general anesthetic. Medication to make you sleep will be given through an intravenous needle.
  • A tube will be placed in your throat after you are asleep to help you breathe.
  • A cut (incision) is made in your armpit and the lymph nodes will be removed.
  • A plastic drainage tube is placed near the armpit to drain the fluid from the area. This is stitched to the skin.
  • The cut (incision) is closed with stitches that dissolve and covered with paper tapes (called Steri-Strips). A dressing, or bandage, is then placed over the skin tapes.
  • All the tissue that is taken out will be sent to a lab to be examined by a pathologist (a doctor). The number of lymph nodes removed and if there is any cancer in them is not known until the final tests are completed. It can take 2 to 3 weeks before this information is available. Your surgeon will discuss the results with you at a follow-up appointment.


What happens after my surgery?

  • After your surgery is done, you will be moved from the operating room to the Post Anaesthetic Care Unit (PACU) which is also known as the "recovery room". Visitors are not allowed in the PACU.
  • When you wake up, you will be moved back to the Same Day Surgery Unit in Room MG 601.
  • Most patients leave hospital the same day as surgery.
  • You will be given prescriptions for pain medication before leaving the hospital.
  • One of the nurses from the cancer centre will phone you the next business day after the surgery.
  • Arrangements will be made for a nurse to monitor the drainage tube and take it out under instructions from your surgeon. You will see the nurse either in your home or at a community clinic.


You must have a responsible adult to take you home. It is dangerous for you to drive for 24 hours after your surgery because of the long-lasting effect of the anesthetic and pain medication.

When will I see my surgeon for a follow-up appointment?

  • An appointment will be made for you to see your surgeon 3 weeks after your operation.
  • The surgeon will check how your wound is healing.
  • Your surgeon will discuss the results of the tests done on the tissue removed during surgery. Any further treatment options will also be discussed.

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