Mastectomy Options for Breast Cancer Patients

Board-Certified Plastic Surgeons Serving Denver, Lone Tree, Colorado & Nationwide

A mastectomy is a type of breast cancer surgery. It involves removing breast tissue and, depending on the type of mastectomy, the nipple, areola, skin, and underarm lymph nodes. The goal of the procedure is to treat or prevent breast cancer, and it is an appropriate option for many women.

Whether you have already had a mastectomy or are in the process of planning one, breast reconstruction is an option available to you. The board-certified plastic surgeons at The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery can help you look ahead to develop an integrated approach to mastectomy and reconstruction. Please call 303-706-1100  to speak to a compassionate member of our team.

Who Should Get a Mastectomy?

A mastectomy is a more extensive breast cancer surgery than a lumpectomy. Some women have the option to choose between a mastectomy and breast-conserving surgery followed by radiation therapy. For others, a mastectomy is the clear way to proceed.

Your decision to get a mastectomy or not is an important one. It should be made based on careful discussions with your oncologist, who can determine if this breast cancer surgery is the best choice in your situation. Our plastic surgeons will happily be part of this discussion to ensure you pick an option that will meet your aesthetic needs.

Types of Mastectomies

There are several ways to perform a mastectomy. The right approach for you will depend on a variety of factors, all of which will be reviewed by your oncologist, general surgeon, and our plastic surgeons. The most common techniques are:

  • Skin-sparing mastectomy. If you are a candidate for an immediate, single-stage breast reconstruction, then your surgeon may recommend a skin-sparing mastectomy. This technique leaves the skin covering the breast intact, although the nipple and areola will probably be removed.
  • Nipple-sparing mastectomy. This technique leaves the nipple and areola unaffected. Only the underlying breast tissue is removed. This procedure is also known as a "subcutaneous mastectomy." Not every woman is a good candidate for a nipple-sparing mastectomy, but your surgeons can help you decide if it is right for you.
  • Prophylactic mastectomy. Some women inherit a harmful mutation of two specific genes: BRCA1 and BRCA2. These women have a 60% risk of developing breast cancer. Depending on the recommendation of an experienced genetic counselor, women with mutated BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes may wish to undergo a risk-reducing prophylactic mastectomy.
  • Unilateral mastectomy. In this technique, only the cancerous breast is removed. A reconstruction that will match the contralateral side is performed.
  • Bilateral mastectomy. In this technique, both breasts are removed instead of one. Many women who choose double mastectomy are at a high risk of developing breast cancer in the other breast, so both are removed as a preventive measure.

There are a few other versions of mastectomy, which you and your oncologist and general surgeon will discuss as you plan your treatment. We will work closely with you and your medical team to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that meets your expectations.

Are There Any Risks with a Mastectomy?

Like any other surgical procedure, a mastectomy still comes with the possibility of several risks. These risks can include:

  • Swelling
  • Breast soreness
  • Chronic pain
  • Wound infection
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Phantom breast pain
  • Seroma
  • Feelings of loss or sexual identity
  • Depression
  • Scarring

At Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery, our team of board-certified plastic surgeons prioritizes patient comfort and safety with each procedure. However, our surgeons are prepared to provide the treatment you need if a complication from your mastectomy were to occur.

What Is Recovery Like After a Mastectomy?

The recovery process after a mastectomy will differ from patient to patient. However, there are a few common side effects that mastectomy patients will most likely experience during their recovery. As you heal from your procedure, you will:

  • Be given a wound dressing to keep your wound clean
  • Have one or more drainage tubes
  • Be given fluids through an IV drip to stabilize your health
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Numbness where the lymph nodes were removed
  • Pain and tenderness while moving

Recovery from a mastectomy can generally take around three to six weeks to fully recover. For some patients, however, side effects such as swelling or pain while making certain movements may require several more months of healing.

Your Post-Mastectomy Reconstruction Options

After a mastectomy, many women choose to reconstruct their breasts. Reconstruction is an option every woman should be informed of prior to mastectomy, and you have a right to clear, accurate information so that you can decide whether a reconstructive procedure is right for you.

Reconstruction of one or both breasts can be achieved with the following techniques:

Procedures to reconstruct the nipple and areola and refine the look of the breast are also options post-mastectomy.

Who Is a Candidate for Breast Reconstruction?

Ideal candidates for breast reconstruction include individuals who:

  • They are cleared by their doctor to undergo surgery.
  • Are free from underlying medical conditions that may affect your healing
  • Have completed chemotherapy
  • Have realistic expectations regarding the appearance of their results

Are Breast Implants Safe?

Yes. Breast implants are FDA-approved for increasing breast size as well as for use during breast reconstruction procedures. Breast implants can be used to restore the appearance of breasts in cancer or trauma patients. Both saline and silicone breast implants are considered safe for breast reconstruction surgery.

What Is Recovery Like After Breast Reconstruction?

The recovery experience after breast reconstruction will vary depending on the patient and their healing progress. However, overall, recovery after breast reconstruction involves applying gauze or bandages to your incisions. As you heal, a support bra can help minimize swelling and support your reconstructed breasts. A thin tube will be placed beneath your skin to drain excess fluid temporarily. As you recover, you should prioritize rest and avoid high-intensity physical activity. To minimize complications and achieve a successful recovery, we recommend patients diligently follow their aftercare guidelines.

How Do I Know Which Breast Reconstruction Type Is Right for Me?

Choosing between breast reconstruction surgery using flaps of your own tissue or breast implants is a decision that can be well-informed by your surgeon. If you know that you want breast reconstruction but aren’t sure which type of procedure is right for you, schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons today. During your consultation, you can expect to discuss the following topics to help determine how breast reconstruction can benefit you:

  • Your medical history
  • Your breast size
  • Size and location of your breast cancer
  • Your experience with your mastectomy
  • If you will need additional cancer treatments
  • If you have the right amount of tissue needed for reconstruction
  • Insurance and costs
  • Past surgical complications

Your consultation with your surgeon is the perfect time to ask any outstanding questions you might have before undergoing your breast reconstruction procedure.

As you decide whether post-mastectomy reconstruction is right for you, our plastic surgeons will make sure you have all the information you need. Your reconstructive choices are dictated in part by the type of mastectomy you have; however, our plastic surgeons also want to hear what your wishes are and what you expect out of the procedure. Then they can make personalized, informed recommendations about your breast reconstruction.

Call Today For A Consultation In Denver!

To learn more about breast reconstruction after mastectomy in the Denver area, please call The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery at 303-706-1100. You can also click here to fill out our online form for your consultation! Our experienced, board-certified plastic surgeons are located in Lone Tree, Colorado, and are proud to serve women from across Colorado and the entire country.

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