A radical mastectomy, also known as a Halsted mastectomy, is not a commonly performed procedure. While this surgery was the standard of care in the past, it is now only performed on patients who have advanced breast cancer that has invaded the muscle wall under the breast tissue.
Like other types of mastectomy, a radical mastectomy removes all of the breast tissue of the affected breast. It also removes all of the lymph nodes under the arm on the affected side and the muscle that lies under the breast. Only the skin required to close the incision is left in place.
This procedure is not considered necessary for patients whose cancer has not invaded the muscle.
This surgery is considered the most disfiguring of the mastectomy procedures, leaving very little tissue other than skin over the rib bones. The scar left after this surgery is 6 to 8 inches long, with enough skin left to close the incision with sutures or staples.
The surgeon may also place drains in the areas of surgery which, as in the other procedures, will be covered for protection and then later removed by the surgeon during a routine office visit.