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Breast Surgery: The Types of Breast Surgery Explained

Breast Surgery

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Updated March 22, 2013

plastic breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy

Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Photo © A.D.A.M.

Breast surgery is performed for a variety of reasons, and is becoming more common every year. The reasons for having breast surgery vary widely, ranging from life-saving cancer surgeries to cosmetic procedures to enhance the appearance of breasts.

Most breast surgeries are performed under general anesthesia. While most cosmetic procedures are outpatient procedures, a mastectomy and some lumpectomy procedures typically require an overnight stay in the hospital. It is important to remember that every operation, even if it is a cosmetic procedure, does have risks and should be taken seriously. The risks of surgery vary from patient to patient, but no procedure is without risk.

Finding a Breast Surgeon

Finding a great surgeon isn’t difficult. However, it may take time and does require some effort. It is worth the time and energy you spend to make sure you have the best possible surgeon, as the surgeon’s skill is the primary factor in determining surgery outcomes.

Two primary types of surgeons perform breast surgeries, depending upon the procedure and the reason that it is being performed. A plastic surgeon performs cosmetic procedures that enhance or reduce the breasts in the majority of cases. Breast cancer treatments are typically performed by a surgical oncologist, but reconstruction may be performed by a plastic surgeon.

Questions To Ask Your Plastic Surgeon

Breast Cancer Surgery

Depending upon the stage of the breast cancer, a lumpectomy may be a treatment option. In more advanced cases, a mastectomy may offer a better chance of treating the cancer.

Staging alone does not direct the course of treatment. You, along with your oncologist, a surgical oncologist and potentially a plastic surgeon who will perform breast reconstruction, will determine the course of treatment. There is no standard course of treatment for breast cancer, before, during or after surgery. Each patient has unique needs and goals for her treatment.

Breast cancer surgery is accompanied by emotions that may not accompany other procedures. Coping with cancer is never easy, but the alteration in the breasts can also be troubling for patients.

Returning to an active sex life after breast cancer may also cause concerns about appearance and self esteem, but can be very rewarding with a caring partner.

All About Breast Cancer Surgery

Breast Cancer Surgery For Men

It is important to remember that men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer. The surgical procedure to treat breast cancer in men is nearly identical to the lumpectomy and mastectomy procedures for women, but the condition is far rarer. This can make finding support groups more difficult, leading many men to online support groups.

More About Men & Breast Cancer

Breast Enhancement Surgery

One of the most popular cosmetic surgeries is breast augmentation, or breast enlargement surgery. This surgery uses an implant to enlarge the breast. While the surgery is done for cosmetic reasons, it isn’t always done purely to enlarge the breasts. It may be performed to balance the size of the breasts in women who have one breast that is significantly larger than the other.

Choosing the right size of breast implants is key to the success of the surgery, matching the patient’s expectations with a size that is reasonable for the patient’s body time and frame.

Selecting a type of implant is also important. Implants vary in material (such as saline, silicone), shape (round or teardrop), and texture (rough, smooth). Your surgeon should review the benefits and risks of each type of implant and guide you in choosing the right implant for you.

Breast Reduction Surgery-Mammoplasty

For women with large breasts, a mammoplasty, or breast reduction may be desirable. Many women experience back pain, headaches and neck strain from large breasts. They may also experience skin problems in the crease under the breast and develop grooves in their shoulders where bra straps rest.

For most patients, a breast reduction means a reduction in pain, makes finding clothing easier and also makes it easier to exercise. Because of this improvement in pain and in some patients, skin condition, this surgery is sometimes paid for by insurance.

Mammoplasty In Images

Breast Lift Surgery-Mastopexy

Mastopexy, a procedure commonly known as a breast lift, is a procedure that is typically performed to improve the appearance of breasts that sag or droop. While a mastopexy can be performed alone, it is often combined with a breast augmentation procedure or a breast reduction surgery for improved results.

Sources:

Breast Cancer in Men. American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancerinMen/DetailedGuide/index

Breast Cancer Treatment By Stage. American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_4X_Treatment_by_Stage_Breast_Cancer_5.asp?rnav=cri

Breast Reconstruction. Susan G. Komen Foundation http://cms.komen.org/Komen/AboutBreastCancer/Treatment/3-5-8?ssSourceNodeId=99&ssSourceSiteId=Komen

Stages of Breast Cancer. BreastCancer.org http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/diagnosis/staging.jsp

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