Mastectomy

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:

  • Call Your Doctor

    Call your doctor if any of these occur:

    • New signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Increased redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
    • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
    • Persistent nausea and/or vomiting
    • Redness, warmth, swelling, stiffness, or hardness in the arm or hand on the side of the body where the lymph nodes were removed
    • New or worsening pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs
    • Lumps or skin changes in remaining tissue on mastectomy side
    • Lumps, skin changes, or nipple drainage in remaining breast
    • Depression

    If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    A mastectomy is a surgery done to remove breast tissue. A number of different mastectomy procedures exist. These include:

    Breast-conserving surgery includes:

    • Lumpectomy—The tumor and a small margin of normal breast tissue around it is removed.
    • Partial mastectomy—Removal of part of the breast that has cancer and some normal tissue around it. This may include removal of lymph nodes or the lining of the chest muscle.

    Breast-tissue removal surgery includes:

    • Simple mastectomy—The entire breast is removed, including the nipple and areola.
    • Skin-sparing mastectomy—The skin that covers the breast is left intact except for the nipple and areola. This surgery is similar to a simple mastectomy. It is done when immediate breast reconstruction is planned. The procedure has limitations and may not be an option for all women.
    • Modified radical mastectomy—The entire breast, some lymph nodes in the armpit, and any affected chest muscle is removed.
    • Radical mastectomy—The entire breast, lymph nodes, and muscles of the chest wall are removed (rarely done).
    Mastectomy
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  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure

    A mastectomy is done:


    • To treat
      breast cancer—removing cancer cells and any affected tissue
    • To prevent breast cancer—women with a very high risk of developing breast cancer may have one or both breasts removed
    • To treat severe side effects from previous treatment—some people with autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus or scleroderma may not be able to tolerate skin side effects from radiation therapy

  • Possible Complications

    Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

    • Bleeding and bruising
    • Seroma—accumulation of clear fluid in the incision
    • Infection
    • Lymphedema—swelling of the arm caused by accumulation of fluid in lymph nodes
    • Limited arm and shoulder movement
    • Numbness of skin on upper arm
    • Pain after the procedure, such as burning pr stabbing pain where breast was removed

    Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

    • Obesity
    • Poor nutrition
    • Smoking
    • Recent or chronic illness
    • Use of certain medications or dietary supplements