Mastectomy options

University of Iowa Health Care’s breast cancer surgeons and plastic surgeons are board-certified, breast specialists who work together and with you to design a treatment plan to meet your specific needs and to treat your specific cancer.

Mastectomy options

Conventional
mastectomy
Nipple-sparing
mastectomy
Skin-sparing
mastectomy
The doctor removes the nipple and areola and some skin. The doctor preserves the nipple and areola. The doctor removes the nipple and areola and preserves as much skin as possible.
The patient can elect later surgery to reconstruct a nipple and areola with delayed breast reconstruction. The incision may follow the line of the areola or along the crease under the breast. The patient can elect later surgery to reconstruct a nipple and areola.
The scar location may complicate cosmetic results. Scars tend to be natural looking, following the body’s contours. Scars tend to be natural looking, following the body’s contours.
Usually reconstruction surgery will require a delay. Immediate reconstruction is performed. Immediate reconstruction is performed.

Which option suits you?

Best candidates for nipple-sparing or skin-sparing mastectomy:

  • Tumor cells are located away from the skin and nipple.
  • There are no signs of inflammatory breast cancer.
  • The patient is a non-smoker.
  • The patient has had no previous radiation therapy.
  • The condition calls for a total mastectomy or a modified radical mastectomy.
  • Patients having a prophylactic mastectomy to reduce the risk of breast cancer may choose one of these approaches.

Following the surgery

Depending on the extent of your surgery, you should go home from the hospital within one to three days. You may have drainage tubes at the incision site, and you’ll be instructed on how to care for them until they’re removed.

You will have some loss of sensitivity over the breast skin and side that may not recover. In the case of nipple-sparing mastectomy, nerves supporting feeling in the nipples are often removed, so you will likely not recover full sensation in the nipple.

You’ll have instructions for arm exercises and keeping the incision area clean. You’ll also know what signs to look for that might require a follow up with your doctor before your next scheduled appointment. Your surgeon will help determine when you’re ready to return to your normal activities.

Last reviewed: 
September 2017

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