A mastectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all of the breast tissue in a patient with breast cancer or for a patient who has a very high risk of developing breast cancer in the future.
Types Of Mastectomy
There are several different mastectomy procedures designed to eradicate cancer but retain as much of the natural breast as possible. Some of the most commonly used techniques include:
This type of mastectomy involves removing all of the breast tissue, but leaving the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes are small structures that are under the arm, and help tell us if the cancer has spread or not. These are not removed with a simple mastectomy.
Modified Radical Mastectomy
This type of mastectomy involves removing all of the breast tissue and removing the lymph nodes under the arm or axilla. If you need this, the surgeon will discuss this with you.
A preventive mastectomy is an elective surgery performed on women who have a high genetic or familial risk of breast cancer. Also called prophylactic mastectomy, it usually takes the form of a total or subcutaneous mastectomy, and can reduce the occurrence of breast cancer by 90 percent.
Skin Sparing mastectomy and Nipple Sparing Mastectomy
These operations remove the breast tissue but leave the skin envelop and/or the nipple to create a more natural looking breast shape. At the same time the breast is removed, the plastic surgeon rebuilds or reconstructs the breast.
Many women desire some type of restorative surgery after the mastectomy and this can usually be accomplished during the initial surgery to remove the breast. Dr. Dultz’s practice works with excellent plastic surgeons who can do this. If you are a candidate for this type of surgery and reconstruction, the surgeon will discuss this with you prior to surgery.
A Nipple Sparing Mastectomy is a highly specialized procedure that Dr. Dultz and Dr. Crivello have been trained to do and they have been doing them successfully for years.
Reconstruction and a Mastectomy
Depending on the type of mastectomy procedure performed, a one to two-day hospital stay may be required. If a woman desires breast reconstruction and she is a good candidate for it (this will be discussed with her during her pre-operative office visit), she will then see a plastic surgeon that Dr. Dultz recommends.
The goal of breast reconstruction is to restore the appearance of the breast and to eliminate the need for an external breast prosthesis. A prosthesis is a heavy piece of material that goes inside a special bra and is often quite heavy. Reconstruction can usually be performed at the same time as the mastectomy is performed, or sometimes at a later date. There are many different types of reconstruction options, and the board certified plastic surgeon will describe them in greater detail.
Risks Of Mastectomy
Certain risks are associated with mastectomy, and may include:
- Fluid-collection underneath the scar left by the incision
- Numbness of the skin along the incision site
- Mild to moderate tenderness in the area adjacent to the incision
- Heightened sensitivity to touch in the surgical area
- Delayed healing of the incision
- Increased risk of infection in the surgical area
- Formation of scar tissue
If the patient has had reconstruction with her mastectomy, there are some additional risks which will be discussed by the plastic surgeon prior to the surgical procedure.