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, including:
A mastectomy is done:
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a mastectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the surgery.
Your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to the surgery:
will be used in most cases. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery. It is given through an IV in your hand or arm.
The doctor will make an oval-shaped incision in the breast. The breast tissue, including the nipple and areola, will be removed. This will be done by cutting the tissue off of the underlying muscle. Nearby lymph nodes (toward the underarm) may also be removed. The doctor will then insert a tube to drain blood and fluids. Lastly, the area will be closed with stitches.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during the procedure. You may have pain while recovering. You may also have numbness and a pinching or pulling feeling in the underarm area. Your doctor will give you pain medicine to help control this pain. If you are having a small area removed, you may not have much pain.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Recovery will take about six weeks.
You will see your doctor within 7-14 days after the surgery. Your doctor will discuss the results and further treatment.
About a month after surgery, 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.
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
Canadian Cancer Society
Axillary lymph nodes. Breastcancer.org website. Available at:
http://www.breastcancer.org/pictures/breast_anatomy/axillary_lymph_nodes. Updated May 2008. Accessed July 22, 2008.
Surgery for breast cancer.
American Cancer Society. Available at:
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-treating-surgery. Updated September 2007. Accessed July 23, 2008.
Treatments and side effects. Breastcancer.org website. Available at:
http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment. Updated July 2008. Accessed July 22, 2008.
Last reviewed October 2012 by Andrea Chisholm
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.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.