Location Map FAQ
St. Maarten Medical Center
A mastectomy is a surgery done to remove all your breast tissue. The goal is to remove all the cancer before
it spreads to other parts of the body. A mastectomy (rather than breast conserving surgery or lumpectomy)
may be advised by your doctor if:
The survival rate tends to be the same between breast conserving surgery and a mastectomy. This is usually a
personal choice that is based on your values and needs. You may think about a mastectomy if you:
The risk of cancer in the breast or chest wall coming back after a mastectomy is lower than with breast
conserving surgery. However, cancer can return in the nearby skin, muscle, or any breast tissue that
remains. In a small number of women, we advise radiation even after a mastectomy.
There are a few types of mastectomy. The type that we suggest depends on the type of cancer you have, your situation and if you may need reconstruction. You and your surgeon will decide what is best for you.
There is a chance that during your mastectomy you may also need surgery on your axillary lymph nodes (lymph nodes under the arm). This may include a sentinel lymph node biopsy or an axillary lymph node dissection (removing multiple lymph nodes under the arm).
After a mastectomy you should plan to stay in the hospital overnight. You may go home sooner if your surgeon
feels you are ready. You should plan to be off work for 2-4 weeks after mastectomy without reconstruction or
4-8 weeks if reconstruction was done. This depends on the type of work you do.
A few other things to know:
If you have a paravertebral block, you will get medicine through your IV to put you to sleep. If you have general anesthesia, you get medicine that puts you into a very deep sleep. A tube is then placed into your trachea (windpipe) to help you breathe. With either of these options, you will not know what is happening or feel any pain.
A one-sided mastectomy surgery takes about 2 hours. The time it takes for reconstruction depends on what you have done.
You will be moved to a recovery room where your heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and urine output will be closely watched. Be sure that all visitors wash their hands.
Movement and deep breathing after your operation can help prevent postoperative complications such as blood clots, fluid in your lungs, and pneumonia. Every hour, take 5 to 10 deep breaths and hold each breath for 3 to 5 seconds.
When you have an operation, you are at risk of getting blood clots because of not moving during anesthesia. The longer and more complicated your surgery, the greater the risk. This risk is decreased by getting up and walking 5 to 6 times per day, wearing special support stockings or compression boots on your legs, and for high-risk patients, taking a medication that thins your blood.
If general anesthesia is given or if you need to take narcotics for pain, it may cause you to feel different for 2 or 3 days, have difficulty with memory, or feel more fatigued. You should not drive, drink alcohol, or make any big decisions for at least 2 days.
Please contact your surgeon’s office if you have: