Mastectomy

(Surgical Removal of the Breast)

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

Removing the breast is often not the first procedure in treating cancer of the breast. An excisional biopsy or even a needle biopsy may be performed prior to deciding on surgical removal of the breast.

A traditional mastectomy involves removing the entire breast along with the nipple as well as removing 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 usually making a separate incision to remove lymph nodes, and then receiving radiation treatment to that breast.  There are some disease states where only the breast is removed, and lymph nodes remain intact.

After surgery one to two drains are placed under the skin. These drains will usually be removed at the surgeon’s office within three to five days of the operation. Most patients stay overnight in the hospital and go home with the drains in place. Instructions for caring for the drains will be explained at discharge 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 utilized and prior to surgical treatment all these options will be discussed.