MASTECTOMY

mastectomy

Description

A mastectomy is surgery to remove the breast tissue. Some of the skin and the nipple may also be removed. However, surgery that spares the nipple and skin can now be done more often. The surgery is most often done to treat breast cancer.

Before surgery begins, you will be given general anesthesia. This means you will be asleep and pain-free during surgery.

There are different types of mastectomies. Which one your surgeon performs depends on the type of breast problem you have. Most of the time, mastectomy is done to treat cancer. However, it is sometimes done to prevent cancer (prophylactic mastectomy).

The surgeon will make a cut in your breast and perform one of these operations:

• Nipple-sparing mastectomy: The surgeon removes the entire breast, but leaves the nipple and areola (the colored circle around the nipple) in place. If you have cancer, the surgeon may do a biopsy of lymph nodes in the underarm area to see if the cancer has spread.

• Skin-sparing mastectomy: The surgeon removes the breast with the nipple and areola with minimal skin removal. If you have cancer, the surgeon may do a biopsy of lymph nodes in the underarm area to see if the cancer has spread.

• Total or simple mastectomy: The surgeon removes the entire breast along with the nipple and areola. If you have cancer, the surgeon may do a biopsy of lymph nodes in the underarm area to see if the cancer has spread.

• Modified radical mastectomy: The surgeon removes the entire breast with the nipple and areolar along with some of the lymph nodes underneath the arm.

• Radical mastectomy: The surgeon removes the skin over the breast, all of the lymph nodes underneath the arm, and the chest muscles. This surgery is rarely done.

• The skin is then closed with sutures (stitches).

One or two small plastic drains or tubes are very often left in your chest to remove extra fluid from where the breast tissue used to be.

A plastic surgeon may be able to begin reconstruction of the breast during the same operation. You may also choose to have breast reconstruction at a later time. If you have reconstruction, a skin- or nipple-sparing mastectomy may be an option.

Mastectomy will take about 2 to 3 hours.