Mastectomy Risks

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Like all surgeries, mastectomy has some risks:

  • Numbness of the skin along the incision site and mild to moderate tenderness of the adjacent area: Numbness and tenderness can happen because the nerves were cut during surgery. Find out more about numbness.
  • Extra sensitivity to touch within the area of surgery: Touch sensitivity is also due to irritated nerve endings. The sensation usually improves as the nerves grow back. Read more about managing breast area sensitivity.
  • Fluid collecting under the scar: Fluid collection under the scar may be the result of hematoma — an accumulation of blood in the wound — or seroma, an accumulation of clear fluid in the wound. Both usually resolve on their own or after being drained with a needle by your doctor. Learn more about hematoma and seroma.
  • Delayed wound healing: During mastectomy, the blood vessels that supply your breast tissue are cut. Occasionally that can present problems when your body tries to heal the incision site. If there isn't enough blood flow to the flaps of your incision, small areas of skin may wither and scab or need to be trimmed by your surgeon. This is uncommon and is usually not a serious complication. Read more about managing delayed healing.
  • Increased risk of infection in the surgical area: If infection happens, it can usually be discovered early and responds well to treatment. Talk to your doctor about the warning signs of infection.
  • Scar tissue formation: With mastectomy alone and mastectomy plus reconstruction, there is a risk for scar tissue to form and build up over time. Sometimes the scar tissue can be lumpy or painful. Your surgeon can tell you about ways to manage any discomfort. Find out more about managing scar tissue formation.

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