What is a mastectomy?

There are several different types of mastectomies.

  • Total or Simple Mastectomy - The removal of the entire breast (including the nipple), but no lymph nodes under the arm.
  • Modified Radical Mastectomy - The removal of the entire breast (including the nipple), the lining over the chest muscles, and many of the lymph nodes under the arm.
  • Radical Mastectomy - The removal of the entire breast (including the nipple), the lining over the chest muscles, the chest muscles, and all the lymph nodes under the arms.
  • Skin-sparing mastectomy - This type of surgery involves the removal of the same amount of breast tissue but a much smaller incision allowing for minimal scarring and salvaging a large portion of the skin. With this type of procedure reconstruction is done in the same surgery. As this is a new treatment and the long term effects are yet to be seen it is important to discuss with your doctor the risks and benefits.
  • Subcutaneous Mastectomy - Surgery which leaves the nipple and overlaying skin intact making reconstruction easier but also increasing the risk that cancer cells will remain. Usually only used for prophylactic mastectomies.

 

To see pre- and post-reconstruction images please visit: Susan Love MD or order: Show Me Photo Collection of Breast Cancer Survivors': Lumpectomies, Mastectomies, Breast Reconstructions and Thoughts on Body Image, Third Edition.

Topic: 
Surgery