What Should I Expect With a Total Mastectomy?

If your physician has recommended a total mastectomy to treat breast cancer, you likely have a lot of questions. This surgical procedure, also called a simple mastectomy, involves the removal of the entire breast and is commonly recommended as treatment for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer or as a preventive measure for those who are at a high risk of developing breast cancer.

How to prepare for a total mastectomy

Knowing what to expect before, during and after a total mastectomy can help you prepare ahead of time for this procedure. Here is an overview of what the procedure will entail:

  • Before surgery – Before scheduling your surgery, your physician will discuss whether breast reconstruction is an option for you to consider. If you do choose this option, it may be provided immediately following the total mastectomy or scheduled for a later date. If you have any questions about the procedure or your options, you should write them down and discuss them with your physician ahead of time.
  • During surgery – This procedure is performed while you are under general anesthesia. Typically, the surgeon will remove the entire breast, including the nipple, while the axillary lymph nodes in the armpit region are left intact.
  • After surgery – Following the procedure, your blood pressure, heart rate and other vitals will be closely monitored. Patients will typically stay in the hospital for one to three days. During this time, a medical professional will help you learn exercises and provide more information that can aid your recovery.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, our surgeons have a high level of experience providing total mastectomy and other surgical breast cancer treatments. They are part of a multispecialty team within our Don & Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program that is dedicated to providing you with the best possible breast cancer treatment and care.

If you have questions about receiving a total mastectomy or would like a second opinion, you can schedule an appointment at Moffitt by calling 1-888-663-3488 or filling out a new patient registration form online.