Mastectomy

The Mastectomy can either be a radical (includes lymph nodes) or simple (excludes lymph nodes).  Surgeons no longer remove muscle tissue in either surgery.

Following the mastectomy, reconstruction, if possible, may be done with implants, or skin flaps from various parts of the body (abdomen, thigh, back, buttocks).  If the patient requires radiation/chemo, reconstruction will be delayed for most likely a year or so.

Following surgery, the patient awakens from a general anesthesia to find up to 4 tubes (2 on each side) for draining fluids and blood.  In my case, I started with 4, but another position under the left breast started bleeding so much blood (220cc) that it required taking me back into surgery within the 24 hours, cleaning, and insertion of the fifth tube.  The tubes are connected to a collection bulb with clips.

In addition, bandages and a mastectomy bra are on the chest area.

The throat may be sore from the breathing tube, IV lines will be in the veins in the back of the hand, and they will give the patient a device to inflate the lungs periodically to avoid pneumonia.

Depending upon how much anesthesia was administered, there may be some residual after effects such as mild depression, jittery feeling, weakness, and of course constipation.

If reconstruction was not opted, the incision will go across the breast area.  With reconstruction, it terminates at the nipple (if it is able to be spared).

The drainage tubes are worn from 7-14 days (everyone is quite individual).  Removal is an outpatient procedure.  They simply snip the sutures holding it in place and pull out the length of tube from within the breast area.

 

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