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Mastectomy for breast cancer

What is a mastectomy?

A mastectomy involves the surgical removal of all of the breast tissue. In many instances, much of the breast skin and even the nipple can be spared. Women who have multiple areas of cancer and/or large tumors relative to the size of the breast are typically recommended mastectomy. There are several different types of mastectomy:

  • Nipple-sparing mastectomy - only the breast tissue is removed.
  • Skin-sparing mastectomy - the breast tissue is removed with the nipple and areola.
  • Total (simple) mastectomy - the breast tissue and skin are removed.
  • Modified radical mastectomy - the whole breast is removed, along with the lymph nodes under the arm.

Factors such as breast size, breast shape, type of cancer, and location of cancer in the breast and/or lymph nodes will determine which type of mastectomy is performed. Your breast surgeon will guide you through the decision-making process. For all types of mastectomy, breast reconstruction is ultimately possible.

Mastectomy: Meeting your individual needs

If breast-conserving surgery is not a viable option for you, your surgeon may perform a mastectomy. Many women with genetic mutations (BRCA1 or BRCA2) are also generally recommended mastectomy.

Prior to the mastectomy, you can meet with one of our plastic surgeons to discuss your reconstruction options. We provide several options for breast reconstruction using implants or your own tissue to restore your breast’s appearance.

Some women are able to have breast reconstruction performed at the time of mastectomy. If this is not possible, we will devise a strategy to help you achieve safe and effective breast reconstruction at a time that is more appropriate. 

In addition, after the procedure, your care team will support you on many levels. For example, therapies like mind-body medicine will help you cope with the emotional and psychological impact of a mastectomy and image enhancement services will help promote a positive self-image.

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