A mastectomy is the surgical removal of the breast tissue.

The breast surgery experts at the Magee-Womens Breast Cancer Program commit to providing you with the most effective surgical treatment for your type of breast cancer.

We also work in conjunction with the reconstructive and plastic surgery team to help preserve the look and feel of your breast.

Types of Mastectomy Procedures

There are several types of mastectomy procedures, including:

Procedure Description

Lumpectomy (segmental mastectomy, partial mastectomy)

The surgical removal of the part of the breast with a cancerous tumor (also known as lumpectomy or segmental mastectomy). Sometimes, the surgeon will also remove lymph nodes in the armpit.

This procedure leaves the nipple and areola (the dark circle of skin around the nipple) intact.

Total mastectomy

The surgical removal of the breast.

Skin-sparing mastectomy

The surgical removal of the breast tissue.

This procedure preserves the skin of the breast, but not the nipple or areola.

Nipple- and areola-sparing mastectomy

The surgical removal of breast tissue through an incision.

This procedure preserves both the nipple and areola.

Modified radical mastectomy

The surgical removal of:

  • The entire breast
  • Some lymph nodes in the armpit

This procedure leaves the chest muscles in place.

Radical mastectomy

The surgical removal of the:

  • Entire breast
  • Lymph nodes
  • Chest muscle (rarely done)

Who Should Consider a Mastectomy?

Women or men who:

  • Have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Have a family history of breast cancer and are interested in preventive options.
  • Are experiencing severe side effects from previous breast cancer treatment.

What Can I Expect During a Mastectomy?

The procedure will last approximately one to three hours.

Your breast surgeon will:

  1. Make an oval-shaped incision in your breast.
  2. Remove the breast tissue, including the nipple and areola, by cutting the tissue off of the underlying muscle.
    Remove nearby lymph nodes toward the underarm, if necessary.
  3. Insert a tube to drain blood and fluids.
  4. Close the incision in your breast with stitches.

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA