Editorial Staff And Contributors
to view an animated version of this procedure.
A mastectomy is a surgery done to remove breast tissue. A number of different mastectomy procedures exist. These include:
Breast-conserving surgery includes:
Breast-tissue removal surgery includes:
A mastectomy is done:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to the surgery:
will be used in most cases. You asleep through the surgery.
The extent of the surgery will depend on the type of mastectomy you are having.
For breast-conserving surgeries, an incision is made where the tumor is located. The tumor is taken out along with a small bit of normal tissue that surrounds it.
For breast-tissue removal procedures, the entire breast, and fatty tissue are removed. The doctor may also need to remove lymph nodes and portions chest muscles that support the breast. Tissue that is removed during surgery is examined under a microscope for any abnormalities. If you have skin-sparing surgery, the skin around the breast will be retained.
After either surgery doctor will then insert a tube to drain blood and fluids. Lastly, the area will be closed with stitches.
Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Right after the procedure, you will be in a recovery room where your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be monitored. Recovery may also include:
If you had cancer and it has spread,
may be needed.
Recovery will take about six weeks. When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Ask your doctor when you can begin wearing a light-weight prosthetic breast. You can be fitted for a more permanent one when the incision area has healed. If you want
surgery, talk to your doctor.
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
Canadian Cancer Society
Axillary lymph nodes. Breast Cancer website. Available at:
http://www.breastcancer.org/pictures/breast_anatomy/axillary_lymph_nodes. Updated September 17, 2013. Accessed January 3, 2014.
Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 16, 2013. Accessed January 3, 2014.
Surgery for breast cancer.
American Cancer Society. Available at:
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-treating-surgery. Updated December 31, 2013. Accessed January 3, 2014.
Surgery for early and locally advanced breast cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 22, 2013. Accessed January 3, 2014.
Treatments and side effects. Breastcancer.org website. Available at:
http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment. Updated May 15, 2013. Accessed January 3, 2014.
Last reviewed January 2014 by
Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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