By Dr. C.S. Ramachandran, General Surgery
Mastectomies are a type of surgery in which one or both breasts and sometimes even lymph nodes near the breasts are removed. Mastectomies are a broad term for many types of surgical procedures. They are mostly performed to deal with breast cancer. Here are the various types of mastectomies:
1. Modified Radical Mastectomy
This process is used to remove the whole breast. This includes the breast tissue, areola, the nipple as well as lymph nodes under the arm. This type of mastectomy is the most complicated and is usually avoided unless the tumor extends up to the lymph nodes or the tumor is gigantic.
2. Simple Mastectomy
This involves removing the breast, the nipple and the areola. It is usually done when the cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes. A sentinel lymph node biopsy can also be performed before a subcutaneous mastectomy. It is basically a procedure to determine whether the cancer in a woman’s breast has spread to her lymph nodes.
3. Skin-sparing Mastectomy
This process is similar to simple mastectomy. The only difference is no skin is removed. The breast tissue, the areola and the nipple are removed but the breast skin is not. Breast reconstruction can be performed after this surgery. However, this procedure is ineffective larger tumors.
4. Subcutaneous Mastectomy
A subcutaneous mastectomy is also called a nipple-sparing mastectomy. In this surgical procedure, only the breast tissue is removed. Therefore breast reconstruction surgery can be easily performed after the subcutaneous mastectomy.
After the procedure, certain steps will be taken as well such as measuring your blood pressure, pulse and breathing on the side of your body which has not been operated on. A bandage will be put over the place of the surgery and pain medications will be given.