Prophylactic Mastectomy: What to Expect

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People receiving prophylactic mastectomy will have one of the following procedures:

  • Simple or total mastectomy: During simple or total mastectomy, the nipple, areola, and all of the breast tissue are removed. Axillary lymph node dissection (removal of the underarm lymph nodes) is not performed, and no muscles are removed.
  • Skin-sparing mastectomy: During skin-sparing mastectomy, the surgeon removes only the skin of the nipple, areola, and the original biopsy scar. Then the surgeon removes the breast tissue through the small opening that is created. The remaining pouch of skin provides the best shape and form to accommodate an implant or a reconstruction using your own tissue. Skin-sparing mastectomy can be performed as a simple or total mastectomy to provide the skin needed for immediate reconstruction.
  • Nipple-sparing mastectomy: During nipple-sparing mastectomy, all of the breast tissue is removed, but the nipple is left alone.

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