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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.