A mastectomy is surgery to remove the entire breast. It is usually done to treat
Breast removal surgery; Subcutaneous mastectomy; Total mastectomy; Simple mastectomy; Modified radical mastectomy
You will be given
- For a subcutaneous mastectomy, the surgeon removes the entire breast but leaves the nipple and areola (the pigmented circle around the nipple) in place.
- For a total or simple mastectomy, the surgeon cuts breast tissue free from the skin and muscle and removes it. The nipple and the areola are also removed. The surgeon may do a
biopsyof lymph nodes in the underarm area to see if the cancer has spread.
- For a modified radical mastectomy, the surgeon removes the entire breast along with some of the lymph nodes underneath the arm.
- For a radical mastectomy, the surgeon removes the overlying skin, all of the lymph nodes underneath the arm, and the chest muscles. This surgery is rarely done.
- The skin is closed with sutures (stitches).
One or two small plastic drains or tubes are usually left in your chest to remove extra fluid from where the breast tissue used to be.
A plastic surgeon may be able to reconstruct the breast (with artificial implants or tissue from your own body) during the same operation. You may also choose to have reconstruction later.
Breast reconstruction - implants Breast reconstruction - natural tissue
Mastectomy generally takes 2 to 3 hours.
Review Date: 01/28/2011
Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, General Surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.