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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).
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
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.
Recovery will take about six weeks. When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Keep the area clean and dry.
Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
Avoid vigorous activity and heavy lifting.
Rest when you need to. Slowly increase activities as approved by your doctor.
Physical therapy may involve shoulder and arm exercises.
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.
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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.