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Mastectomy is surgery to remove all breast tissue.

When might mastectomy be the right operation for you?

Sometimes abnormal breast tissue cannot be removed safely with a lumpectomy and a mastectomy is needed.

You may need a mastectomy if you:

  • have more than one cancer in different parts of the breast

  • have a large tumour and smaller breasts, meaning lumpectomy would distort the breast

  • have already had radiotherapy to the breast in the past 

  • have a connective tissue disease such as lupus or scleroderma

  • are pregnant

  • have had a lumpectomy, but cancer is still present at the edges (margin) of the operated area and there is concern about cancer extending to elsewhere in the breast

Preventive Mastectomy

If you have a very high risk of breast cancer due to family history or a genetic mutation, you may choose to have a preventive or risk-reducing bilateral mastectomy. This involves removing both breasts and significantly reduces the lifetime risk of breast cancer.

Types of Mastectomy

Simple Mastecomy

Otherwise known as a total mastectomy, this operation involves removing the entire breast, leaving a flat chest.

Skin-sparing Mastectomy

This operation removes all breast tissue, including the nipple, leaving the skin of the breast behind. It is usually done as a precursor to breast reconstruction

Nipple-sparing Mastectomy

Very similar to a skin-sparing mastectomy except that the nipple is also left intact. 

What to expect

A mastectomy is performed under a general anaesthetic and you will usually stay in hospital between one and three nights.

You will be given specific instructions on fasting and when and where you need to go on the day of your surgery.

You will have surgical drain tube, which may stay in after you are discharged. If so you will be given instructions and help on how to manage this at home.

You will have a post-operative appointment with your Surgeon about one week after your surgery to check your wound and discuss your results.

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