The decision to have a mastectomy is a difficult one. Some women choose to undergo a mastectomy after diagnosis to reduce the chances of cancer recurring, while others opt for a preventative mastectomy due to a strong family history of cancer. Whether you’re dealing with a cancer diagnosis or making choices to protect your long-term health, the odds are that you have questions. The board-certified doctors at La Peer’s Breast Surgery Center of Excellence specialize in mastectomy and other procedures to treat breast cancer and reconstruct the breasts. If you or someone you love is facing breast surgery, feel free to contact us to schedule a breast consultation.

Undergoing a Mastectomy

Surgery to remove all the breast tissue from one or both breasts, mastectomy surgery can be used to treat existing breast cancer or prevent it from developing at a future date. A preventative or prophylactic mastectomy may dramatically reduce a woman’s chance of developing cancer in the future. For this reason, many women who have tested positive for the breast cancer gene and those with a family history of the disease often opt to undergo preventative mastectomies.breast-cancer-exam-mastectomy-los-angeles

You will be under general anesthesia and should experience no pain or discomfort during a mastectomy. After making an elliptical incision around the breast, a board-certified surgeon will remove the breast tissue and other parts of the breast depending on the type of mastectomy being performed. Certain types of mastectomies involve removal of the nipple, areola and breast skin, while other types leave these parts intact.

A double mastectomy involves the procedure being performed on both breasts at the same time, and women who desire breast reconstruction after a double mastectomy may do so either at the time of their surgery or as a later double mastectomy surgery.

For women undergoing one-stage breast reconstruction at La Peer, a surgical oncologist will perform the mastectomy and a breast surgeon will reconstruct the breasts. In other cases, the surgeon may place tissue expanders so the breasts can be reconstructed at a later date. After, the surgeon will close the incision with sutures. He or she may also attach 1-2 small plastic tubes connected to a bag in order to drain fluids in the wake of surgery. In general, mastectomy without reconstruction takes 1-3 hours. One-stage breast reconstruction takes longer but requires patients to undergo only one surgery. Women who undergo one-stage reconstruction wake up from their mastectomies with beautiful new breasts, whereas women who undergo breast reconstruction after a mastectomy must have separate procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is a prophylactic mastectomy?

A: A prophylactic or preventative mastectomy is performed before breast cancer is diagnosed.  Women with a strong family history of breast cancer and/or certain abnormalities on the BRCA 1 and 2 genes may want to consider undergoing this procedure to limit their chances of developing breast cancer in the future.

Q: Is mastectomy a good option for breast cancer patients who are pregnant?

A: A mastectomy may be a good choice for pregnant breast cancer patients who want to avoid the radiation that accompanies a lumpectomy.

Q: What are some risks associated with a mastectomy?

A: While a mastectomy is generally regarded as a safe procedure, every surgery carries with it some degree of risk. In rare cases, mastectomy patients experience pain, swelling, shoulder pain, numbness and infection. The risk of infection is reduced by having surgery at an outpatient surgical center like the Breast Center of Excellence rather than a hospital.

Q: Which types of breast cancer may be treated with a mastectomy?

A: A mastectomy is commonly used to treat ductal carcinoma in situ and non-invasive, inflammatory and locally recurrent breast cancers. Typically, mastectomy is NOT used to treat patients with Stage 4 cancer.

Contact the Breast Surgery Center of Excellence

A mastectomy is a serious surgical procedure that affects not just a woman’s health but in many instances her body image and self-esteem. The Breast Surgery Center of Excellence offers one-stage breast reconstruction and other procedures to help women regain health and self-confidence after cancer. Call (888) 316-4167 today to schedule a consultation with our team.

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