A mastectomy is an operation to remove the breast.

It's used to treat Breast cancer in womenor breast cancer in men . It can also be used to reduce the risk of cancer developing in the breast.

If your GP refers you urgently because they think you have cancer, you have the right to be seen by a specialist within two weeks.

Preparing for amastectomy

Before having a mastectomy, you'llhave the opportunity to discuss the operation with a specialist nurse or surgeon.You can discuss how the procedure might affect you both physically and emotionally.

A specialist nurse can give you practical advice about bras and prostheses (bra inserts), if you need them. Your surgeon will discussthe type of mastectomy you'll have, possible complications and the option of breast reconstruction (see below).

If you're currently taking any medicines, find out whether you should continue taking them before your operation. However, don't stop taking a prescribed medication unless advised to do so by a qualified healthcare professional responsible for your care.

If you smoke, you may be advised to stop smoking before your operation. Smoking can increase the risk of complications during and after your operation, which may increase your recovery time.

There are several different types of mastectomy . The type recommended for you will depend on factors such as how much the cancer has spread. All types of mastectomy use general anaesthetic and involve making a cut (incision) either diagonally or horizontally across your breast so that the breast tissue can be removed.

Before the operation, you may need to have chemotherapy or hormone therapy to reduce the size of any tumours.

Breast reconstruction

After your breast has been removed, you may choose to have a breast reconstruction . This involves creating an artificial breast to replace the breast or breasts thathave beenremoved.

It's sometimespossible for a breast reconstruction to be carried outat the same time asa mastectomy, although it can be delayed until a later date if necessary.

Most people make a good recovery and only need to stay in hospital for one night. However, some people will need to spend a few days in hospital. Generally, it takes three and six weeks to fully recover.

During the early stages of recovery, youmay have tubes coming from the wound. These are used to drain away blood and fluids to help prevent swelling or infection. Your scarand stitches will be covered with a dressing.

It's common to experience pain, numbness, tingling and swelling after a mastectomy, but painkillers should provide some relief.

Inrare cases, more serious complications can develop following a mastectomy, including infection of the wound and delayed healing.

and the possible complications of a mastectomy .

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016