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MastectomyMastectom­a

Mastectomy

Breasts

Mastectomy is surgery to remove the breast. The most commonly done mastectomies are called simple and modified radical. During these procedures, the chest muscle is not removed. As a result, arm strength remains. Keeping the chest muscle also makes reconstruction easier.

Cutaway view of breasts

Simple Mastectomy

During a simple mastectomy, the breast tissue (lobules, ducts, and fatty tissue) and a strip of skin containing the nipple are removed. This surgery most often requires a hospital stay. Based on the results of surgery and follow-up tests, further treatment may be needed.

Cutaway view of breasts

Modified Radical Mastectomy

This type of mastectomy is usually done to treat invasive cancer. During the mastectomy the breast tissue and a strip of skin with the nipple is removed. Some of the axillary lymph nodes are also removed. The removed nodes are tested for cancer. Sometimes a surgical drain is placed to keep fluid from building up. This drain is removed 3-4 days after surgery. Modified radical mastectomy almost always requires a hospital stay. Based on the results of the surgery and follow-up tests, further treatment may also be needed.

Risks and Complications of Mastectomy

  • Pain or numbness under the arm

  • Bleeding or infection

  • Stiffness of the shoulder

  • Fluid collection (seroma)

  • Long-term swelling of the arm (lymphedema)

Date Last Reviewed: 2007-01-15T00:00:00-07:00

Date Last Modified: 2005-08-01T00:00:00-06:00