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Mastectomy (Surgical Removal of the Breast)

This surgery is most commonly done for cancer of the breast. Most of the time, this affects women, but in rare instances can affect males as well.

You may have had an excisional biopsy of perhaps even a needle biopsy prior to this point. A traditional mastectomy involves removing the entire breast along with the nipple as well as taking the lymph nodes from the axilla or armpit.

An alternative to mastectomy for breast cancer in select patients involves removing only a quadrant of the breast (also called a lumpectomy), plus making usually a separate incision to remove the lymph nodes, and then receiving radiation treatment to that breast. There are some disease states where only the breast itself needs to be removed without lymph node resection.

You can expect 1 to 2 drains to be left under the skin after surgery, and these drains will be removed usually within 3-5 days of the operation. Most patients will stay overnight in the hospital and go home with the drains in place. You will be given instructions on how to care for the drains once you are discharged from the hospital.

In certain cases after a mastectomy, a breast reconstruction can be performed. This can be done immediately or can be done in a delayed manner anywhere from months to years after the initial operation.

There are also external prosthetic breast devices that can be utilized and we would be happy to discuss these options with you prior to your surgical treatment.


Link to the American Board of Surgery
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