Breast Cancer: 3 Different Types of Mastectomies Women Should Know About
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer there is a chance you may require a mastectomy. While most women are familiar with the concept of a full or partial mastectomy there are actually several different types of mastectomies that you should be aware of before you and your doctor make a decision about what is best for you.
Types of Mastectomies
The traditional mastectomy removes the central breast skin. This includes the areola and nipple as well as the underlying gland. This type of mastectomy will also leave a scar across the central breast.
Another type of mastectomy is the skin-sparing mastectomy. The skin-sparing mastectomy preserves most of the breast skin and facilitates a more natural reconstruction. There are fewer scars as well; however, the areola and nipple are removed. The second stage of a skin-sparing mastectomy includes the reconstruction of the areola and nipple.
A nipple-sparing mastectomy does just what the name implies. The nipple is not removed during the mastectomy and there is less scarring and a more natural looking reconstruction.
Pros and Cons of the Different Types of Mastectomies
While a skin-sparing mastectomy preserves more of the breast skin, it is typically only performed if you plan on having an immediate breast reconstruction. The issue is if you have cancer cells near the skin, then you would not want to select this option as it may not remove all of the cancer cells.
A nipple-sparing mastectomy removes all of the breast tissue except the nipple. The upside is this allows for a more natural looking nipple and breast reconstruction. This works well as long as you don’t have overly large or sagging breasts. The downside is that doctors can find it difficult to place the nipple correctly. Also, the nipple doesn’t always have a proper blood supply and can start to die.
Studies have shown that the risk of a recurrence of cancer is the same regardless of the type of mastectomy you receive. The real difference is in the appearance of the breast after surgery and reconstruction.
What to Expect After a Mastectomy
After your surgery, you should expect a little soreness and pain. This can include a burning pain under your arms or in your chest. Itching can occur as well. Doctors believe this pain is due to a form of nerve damage. For some women, it is months after their mastectomy that the pain begins. The good news is that, for most, over the counter painkillers will help. If over-the-counter medicines aren’t enough, talk to your doctor about pain blockers or injectable steroids.
Finally, like those who have lost a limb, some women that undergo a mastectomy can experience phantom pain or phantom sensations. This happens as new nerves regrow. You may experience a crawling sensation or be sensitive to the touch.
The important thing it to talk to your doctor before you have a mastectomy so you understand all of your options, and then be sure to have a conversation afterward about any issues you may be dealing with. There is no reason to suffer in silence, and with today’s technology, there is a lot of help out there for you before, during, and after your mastectomy.
Have you or a loved one had a mastectomy? What type of option did you choose? How are you feeling now? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.