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A mastectomy is surgery to remove breast tissue. There are 2 types:
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A mastectomy is done to:
Problems are rare, but all surgeries have some risk. Your doctor will go over problems that may happen, such as:
Some factors that may raise the risk of problems are:
Your doctor may do blood and urine tests. Before surgery:
You will have general anesthesia. It will block pain and keep you asleep during the procedure.
For breast-conserving surgery, a cut is made at the site of the tumor. The tumor is taken out. A small bit of normal tissue around it is also taken out.
For breast-tissue removal surgery, the whole breast and fatty tissue are taken out. The doctor may also need to remove lymph nodes and some chest muscles. Tissue that is taken out is studied under a microscope. If you have skin-sparing surgery, the skin around the breast will be kept.
The doctor will place a tube to drain blood and fluids. The site will be closed with stitches.
1 to 3 hours
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. You will be given medicine for pain after surgery.
1 to 3 days
You will be in a room where your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be checked. Recovery may also mean:
If you had cancer and it has spread, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be needed.
Activity will be limited for a few days to a few weeks based on surgery. Exercises may be given if lymph nodes were removed.
Prosthetic breast or reconstruction may be available for those who are interested.
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have problems such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Canadian Cancer Society
Women's Health Matters—Women's College Hospital
Axillary lymph nodes. Breast Cancer website. Available at: http://www.breastcancer.org/pictures/breast_anatomy/axillary_lymph_nodes. Accessed December 18, 2020.
Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113654/Breast-cancer-in-women. Accessed December 18, 2020.
Surgery for breast cancer. American Cancer Society. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/surgery-for-breast-cancer.html. Accessed December 18, 2020.
Surgery for early and locally advanced breast cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T901192/Surgery-for-early-and-locally-advanced-breast-cancer. Accessed December 18, 2020.
Treatments & side effects. Breast Cancer website. Available at: http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment. Accessed December 18, 2020.
Last reviewed November 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD