What is a Total Mastectomy?
A total mastectomy is the removal of the breast but not the removal of lymph nodes or chest muscles that lie underneath the breast.
In most cases, a mastectomy is required in order to remove cancerous tissue from the body. The extent of tissue removed is determined by the amount of cancer present in your body.
This is major surgery and the procedure will permanently change the outward shape and appearance of your chest. So make sure that you ask your doctor to carefully explain the reasons behind this recommendation.
Two incisions will be made beginning at the middle of the chest, one along the top and one along the bottom of the breast – coming together just under the arm.
The skin is then lifted up and away, revealing the tissue underneath.
Beginning at the clavicle – or collar bone – the surgeon then begins to carefully cut the breast tissue away from the muscles that lie just beneath.
When the breast has been completely freed, it is lifted away, exposing the top layer of muscle, called the pectoralis major. If cancer has spread to this muscle, your doctor may elect remove it as well.
When the surgical team is satisfied that they have done all that they can to remove the cancer, they will release the muscles and other tissue.
One or more drainage tubes will be temporarily inserted at the site while the healing process begins.
They will then close the incision. Finally, a sterile bandage is applied.