Mastectomy Before and After

May 8, 2012

It is very unfortunate to find out you have breast cancer as a woman. Women who are diagnosed often require a mastectomy to remove one or both breasts. If the cancer is small, then a lumpectomy may be enough (where only a portion of the breast is removed). Those who inherit the harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation also face the dreaded option of whether to cut off the breasts as a precaution to avoid getting cancer. It is extremely difficult for a woman to part with her boobs. They are the epitome of womanhood and patients often feel robbed of their femininity after the procedure.

This is why many have breast implants inserted after a mastectomy.  The other alternative is to wear a mastectomy bra with breast prosthesis. These can be quite costly, but you can actually just buy the form and adapt your own bras by sewing a two layer lining on the inside. Wearing prosthesis can really affect your self-esteem, sex drive and how you see yourself as a woman.  The breast augmentation gives women back their confidence and allows them to feel like women again. The new breasts will last for years to come and if they start heading south, then a breast lift can help perk them back up again. Sometimes even men require their breasts removed due to cancer. A male mastectomy can leave the man without nipples however it is much easier to reconstruct those than to make an entire breast again for women.

Before and after photo

Before and After Photo: Mastectomy #1

Patient #1

Sarah from Connecticut had a mastectomy 9 months ago. The muscle was left but lymph nodes were removed. The operation was a success. The after photo was taken 8 months and two weeks later.


Why do people have a breast removed?

Statistics show the most common reason why people have a mastectomy is due to breast cancer. It’s a good idea to get a mastectomy over a lumpectomy if the cancerous tumor is large and surgery would deform the breast. Usually a mastectomy is performed if a lumpectomy is not an option. A lumpectomy only involves removing the cancerous tissue from the breast and leaving as much as possible intact.

Types of mastectomy

There are four main types of mastectomy, we have listed them below with descriptions.

Radical – Rarely performed. Chest muscle is removed as well as the lymph nodes under the arm and the rest of the breast.

Modified radical – Exactly the same as radical but the chest muscle is left intact.

Simple/total – The surgeon removes breast tissue but leaves the skin intact. The areola along with the nipple will be removed during this procedure. Depending on how far the cancer has spread, the surgeon will remove what he must during the operation. Sometimes the surgeon has to do this on both breasts depending on the extent of the spread of cancerous tumors.

Subcutaneous – This is where the entire breast is removed but the nipple along with areola are left in place.

Following a mastectomy several tubes are left in your chest to help remove any extra fluid left after the operation.

You will be placed under general anesthetic during the operation so you will be asleep throughout.

More mastectomy before and after photos >>>>

Before treatment

Prior to your mastectomy, you and your treating surgeon must consider a few things. Together you will discuss the size of your breast/s being operated on, placement of the tumor, number of tumors and the size of the tumor/s. Your doctor will ask you some general medical history questions such as if you’ve reached menopause and general family background questions. Making a decision on which type of mastectomy to have will be hard. If your family has a history of breast cancer in it then you will be at a higher risk of getting it. Having a mastectomy greatly reduces your risk of dying from cancer but doesn’t entirely eliminate the possibility. Prior to the operation you will have many tests performed on you such as blood and imaging tests like a chest x-ray, bone scans and CT scans, this is to test weather the cancer has spread to other parts of your body, hopefully the cancer was detected early and the news is good. You should advise your physician if there is a possibility of you being pregnant and what medication you have recently been taking. During the week just before going in to surgery you will be asked to stop taking all blood thinning medication, this is so there won’t be excessive bleeding during the procedure. Some of these medications include aspirin and ibuprofen; your doctor will tell you which drugs you should take during this time. Your doctor will give you instructions on what to eat and how much the day of the surgery, be sure to follow these instructions well.

Risks

When a more invasive procedure is performed

Where the surgeon made the cut with a scalpel you may later experience scabbing, loss of skin or blistering.

Risks associated with any type of mastectomy

Recovery time

The normal recovery time after a mastectomy is several weeks, this increases if you had a breast reconstruction at the same time. Ultimately it depends on each individual, their breasts and the type of mastectomy they had.

After surgery

Following surgery you will be moved to a recovery room in the hospital or clinic where you will be monitored for things such as blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate. The general stay at the hospital shouldn’t last longer than 3 days, this length increases if you also had a breast reconstruction at the same time. The morning after surgery you will have to run through some exercises with a nurse to help reduce the chances of stiffness and help the scar heal properly, your treating surgeon should give you a written copy of these exercises so you can practice them regularly and even at home during recovery.

Take home instructions doctors will give you

Recovering at home

After being discharged from the hospital you will have to take care of yourself at home so you recover properly, asking loved ones to help you is recommended so you don’t hurt yourself or slow down recovery. When you first get home you will surely be exhausted from the medication and the experience and simply want to rest. Get extra rest during the first few weeks of being discharged but do go for walks if you can to improve blood circulation and assist the healing process. Continue taking your prescribed medication and if you do run out and start to feel pain don’t be shy to see  your doctor about organizing some more, they will be more than happy to help you. You will need to take sponge baths until your treating doctor removes the sutures and drains, you will be able to take a shower once this is done. Regularly perform the arm exercises your surgeon has given you. If you are feeling fatigue in the first few weeks or months than this is normal, it could possibly be from the medication you have been given. You may experience something called “Phantom pain“, this is the uncomfortable feeling of nerves growing back weeks to months after the operation; generally taking something like ibuprofen can get rid of this for a time.

Cost

The average cost of a mastectomy is $12,000, although insurance usually covers the cost depending on your diagnosis.

Opinions

I had a modified radical mastectomy a few years back and then a breast reconstruction a few months ago. The mastectomy was a difficult thing to go through for me. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and there was no other alternative but to remove my left breast. Luckily enough I’ve had health insurance most of my life and it covered the cost. I hated that feeling of phantom pain, it really made me miss by breast. I was very unlucky to get a form of breast cancer but I know there are other women out there with much greater problems.

Submitted by Anonymous on May 10, 2012

YouTube video

This YouTube video is about radical modified mastectomies. It explains the procedure in full and why it is chosen over other types of mastectomy. Unfortunately this procedure permanently changes the appearance of one’s breast. The only other option for mastectomy is chemotherapy or radiation therapy, sometimes patients undergo them all just to be sure; this usually only happens if insurance is fronting the cost.

More before and after photos

Before and After Photo: Mastectomy #2

Patient #2

Candice from New Jersey had a mastectomy almost a year ago due to cancer. Her insurer paid the cost of the operation due to the diagnosis received by the doctors. Candice claims she’s had problems adjusting to having only a single breast and hopes to save up for reconstructive surgery in the near future to give her her breast back. This after mastectomy photo was taken half a year following surgery.

 Before and After Photo: Mastectomy #3

Patient #3

Mandy from Texas had a mastectomy several years ago again due to breast cancer. There was a large scar left where the surgical cuts were made and the flesh reattached. Mandy is grateful insurance fronted the cost and is hopeful the cancer hasn’t spread and doesn’t resurface in the future. The after photo was taken 9 months post surgery.


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One Response to “Mastectomy Before and After”

Comment from Kassie xOx
Time May 10, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Women shouldn’t see a problem with having this type of surgery because it’s to remove cancer and it’s better to live then die in the end run. I can imagine it might look funny to people but there is a reason why women have this done. It might make it a little harder for you to find a man because so many are just shallow but if he’s true he wouldn’t let a missing breast bother him. I hope this never happens to me, I’d save up for a breast reconstruction for sure, no matter how much it’d cost me.

It would look kind of strange if you went to the beach in your bikinis but I guess you’d avoid that sort of attention unless you were the only one there.

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