what is mastectomy and how does it affect women?

Posted by ecostinger on 3rd Apr 2017

What is mastectomy?

It is the surgical partial or complete removal of the one or both breast tissues, usually done as a treatment for breast cancer. The approach done during this procedure depends on the staging, breast size, tumor size, and the involvement of the lymph nodes.

What are the types of mastectomy?


This approach is also referred to as total mastectomy because it involves the removal of the entire breast tissue of the breast affected with cancer. This traditional approach removes the entire breast but conserves the muscles and nearby lymph nodes, although it may sometimes be combined with lymph node biopsy. There are three subtypes to simple mastectomy and these are:

Sparing - Aside from the breast tissues removed, the only structure taken out at the external portions are those of the nipple and the areola. In order to minimize invasiveness the surgeon may have to create a keyhole incision to work with internal structures.

Total Skin Sparing - Using an incision made at the edges of the breasts or around the areola, the surgeon removes the entire breast tissue but conserves the entire external structures.

Nipple Sparing - In this approach the surgeon creates an incision around the nipple but leaves the areola intact. The entire breast tissue may be removed but the exterior structures are maintained. It is most common compared to other forms of simple mastectomies since it promises better success should breast reconstruction be done, and it also has a lower risk for complications. But the concerns about keeping such structures intact is that it poses a chance for recurrence later on.

What are the concerns about Mastectomy?

One of the major concerns with mastectomy is that it can affect a woman's self-esteem due to the physical changes. With defining characteristics of her womanhood removed, it is highly likely that she experience an altered body image. In some cases this can leave her severely disfigured which would require another surgery to repair or restore a normal appearance.
The extent of the procedure can also be very risky.
Radical mastectomy, also known as total mastectomy is a process that completely removes the breast. This form of mastectomy is the preferred method of completely eliminating threats of breast cancer development. Radical mastectomy has been practiced for quite some time now and has saved countless lives. In this process, as the name suggests, involves the complete removal of every part of the breast. This means that the muscles, lymph nodes, and the breast mass are removed.

Obviously mastectomy is a permanent process. Before undergoing this procedure, a patient must consult with a doctor to fully understand the process, the benefits, and the risks before undergoing the operation. In this way, the patient is well prepared for whatever will happen after the procedure. Preparation for mastectomy is very important not only because it can save lives but also it is something that the patient will have to live with for the rest of his or her life.

How can one regain normal body image after mastectomy?

Before a woman decides to have mastectomy it is important that she discuss this at length with her doctor. She can however regain a normal body image through breast reconstruction surgery involving skin flaps or skin grafts taken from other parts of the body. Another approach, which is considered to be more preferable due to its less invasive nature compared to grafting, is breast augmentation surgery.

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