Breast Surgery

[Your Comprehensive Guide]

Verified Dr.Edna Skopljak

Verified Dr.Edna Skopljak

Edna Skopljak is a Doctor of Medicine. She has over 10 years of experience in the medical field. She is also a volunteer at several organizations, and is always looking for ways to improve the health of her community.

What is breast surgery?

Breast surgery is a surgical procedure that focuses on the alteration, reconstruction, or removal of the breast. It can be performed for various reasons ranging from cosmetic modifications, such as breast augmentation and reduction, to medically necessary procedures, such as mastectomy for breast cancer treatment.

What is the importance of breast surgery?

Breast surgery plays a vital role in both medical and cosmetic fields. On the medical side, these surgeries can help manage and treat conditions like breast cancer, significantly increasing survival rates and improving patients’ quality of life.

On the cosmetic side, breast surgeries can enhance self-esteem and body image. They can correct asymmetry, increase or decrease size, lift sagging breasts, or reconstruct the breast after mastectomy. This aspect of breast surgery often significantly improves patients’ psychological well-being.

What are the common reasons for breast surgery?

Breast surgery is commonly sought for a variety of reasons. These may include:

  1. Medical reasons: This includes surgeries due to breast cancer, to remove benign lumps, or to reduce the risk of cancer for those with BRCA gene mutations.
  2. Cosmetic reasons: These surgeries are often carried out to change the size, shape, or contour of the breasts. They can include breast augmentation (to increase size), breast reduction (to decrease size), and breast lift procedures.
  3. Reconstructive reasons: Some individuals undergo breast surgery to restore the natural look and feel of the breast after a mastectomy or injury.
  4. Corrective reasons: This involves surgeries that correct congenital deformities of the breast.

Understanding the variety and importance of breast surgery procedures can be the first step towards making informed decisions about your healthcare and body image.

What are the types of breast surgery?

There are three types of breast surgeries. They are cosmetic breast surgery, reconstructive breast surgery, and breast cancer surgeries.

Cosmetic breast surgery

Cosmetic breast surgeries primarily focus on altering the appearance of the breasts, enhancing their size, shape, or position on the chest.

  1. Breast Augmentation: Breast augmentation, also known as mammoplasty, is a surgery that can increase the size of your breasts or restore breast volume lost after weight loss or pregnancy. This can be done by using breast implants or fat transfer.
  2. Breast Reduction: Also known as reduction mammoplasty, this procedure is for women with overly large breasts that may cause physical discomfort or self-esteem issues. It involves removing excess breast tissue, fat, and skin to achieve a breast size proportionate to the body.
  3. Breast Lift (Mastopexy): A breast lift, also known as mastopexy, is a surgery that can lift and reshape sagging breasts. The surgeon removes excess skin and tightens the surrounding tissue to create a more youthful and lifted appearance. It can be done alone or in combination with an augmentation or reduction.
  4. Breast Implant Removal and/or Replacement: Sometimes, previous implants need to be removed due to complications, dissatisfaction with size, or the desire to replace them with newer models.

Reconstructive breast surgery

Reconstructive breast surgeries are performed to restore the normal appearance of breasts after surgical removal (mastectomy) or to correct congenital deformities.

  1. Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy: This procedure uses prosthetics or autologous tissue (tissue from other parts of the body) to recreate a breast mound that resembles a natural breast.
  2. Corrective Surgery for Congenital Abnormalities: This surgery aims to rectify issues like asymmetrical breasts, tuberous breasts, or absent breasts (Amastia).

Breast cancer Surgeries

Breast cancer surgeries are performed to remove cancerous tissues from the breast.

  1. Lumpectomy: A lumpectomy is a type of surgery that removes a tumor from the breast. The surgeon also removes a small amount of healthy tissue around the tumor to make sure that all of the cancer is gone.
  2. Mastectomy: In this procedure, the whole breast is removed to prevent the spread of cancer. There are several types of mastectomies, including simple (or total) mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy, and radical mastectomy.
  3. Sentinel Node Biopsy: This procedure is often done during lumpectomy or mastectomy to determine if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm.

Each type of breast surgery has a unique purpose, and the best one for you will depend on your health, medical history, personal preferences, and the recommendation of your doctor.

Risks and Complications of Breast Surgery

Like any surgical procedure, breast surgeries carry certain risks and potential complications. It is crucial to understand these aspects before deciding on a procedure.

Potential Risks

Some general risks associated with breast surgery include:

Anesthesia risks: All surgeries that require anesthesia carry a small risk of complications, including allergic reactions or problems breathing.

Infection: Although surgeons take careful steps to prevent it, infection can sometimes occur after surgery.

Bleeding: There is a risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Occasionally, a blood transfusion might be needed, or another surgery to control bleeding.

Scarring: All surgeries leave some form of scar. The size and location will depend on the specific procedure.

Changes in nipple or breast sensation: Some people may experience a temporary or permanent change in the sensitivity of the nipples or breasts.

Possible Complications

Potential complications specific to certain types of breast surgery can include:

Capsular contracture: This occurs when the scar tissue around a breast implant tightens, causing the breast to feel hard. It can cause discomfort and distort the shape of the breast.

Implant rupture or leakage: Breast implants, whether saline or silicone, can rupture or leak. This can happen as a result of an injury, or over time as the implant wears out.

Breastfeeding difficulties: Some surgeries, particularly those that involve incisions around the areola, may potentially affect the ability to breastfeed.

Ways to Mitigate Risks

To minimize these risks and complications:

Choose a qualified surgeon: Ensure your surgeon has the appropriate training, skills, and experience in the procedure you are considering.

Follow pre- and post-surgery instructions: Adhering to your surgeon’s guidelines can significantly reduce the risk of complications.

Maintain good health: Good overall health can help your body better respond to surgery and recover more quickly.

Remember, all surgeries carry risks. Therefore, it’s crucial to have an open discussion with your surgeon about the potential risks and complications before going ahead with the procedure.

The breast surgery procedure

The process of breast surgery can vary depending on the type of procedure being performed. However, there are some general steps that most breast surgeries will involve.

A. Pre-surgery Preparations

Preparing for breast surgery involves a number of steps:

  1. Medical evaluation: Your doctor will conduct a thorough medical evaluation to ensure you are in good health for the surgery. This may involve blood tests, mammograms, or other diagnostic tests.
  2. Discussing expectations: It’s essential to have a clear understanding of what the surgery can achieve and to discuss this with your doctor.
  3. Practical arrangements: You will need to call a friend or family member drive you home after surgery and to assist with daily activities during the initial recovery period.
  4. Instructions: Your doctor will provide detailed instructions on what to do before the surgery, such as guidelines on eating, drinking, and medication use.

What Happens during breast surgery?

Although the specifics will vary depending on the type of breast surgery, most will follow a general sequence:

  1. Anesthesia: Most breast surgeries are performed under general anesthesia, though some minor procedures may use local anesthesia with sedation.
  2. Making the incision: The surgeon will make an incision in the breast. The location and size of the incision depend on the type of surgery.
  3. Performing the procedure: The specifics of the procedure will depend on the type of breast surgery. It could involve inserting an implant, removing tissue, or reshaping the breast.
  4. Closing the incision: Once the procedure is complete, the surgeon will close the incision with sutures, skin adhesives, or surgical tape.

Post-surgery recovery

After the surgery, there will be a recovery period:

  1. Immediately after surgery: You’ll be taken to a recovery area to be monitored as the anesthesia wears off.
  2. Pain management: You’ll likely experience some pain and swelling after the procedure. Your doctor will provide medication to manage this.
  3. Home recovery: Once at home, it’s important to rest and take care of the surgical area as instructed by your surgeon.
  4. Follow-up appointments: You’ll have follow-up appointments with your surgeon to monitor your progress and address any concerns.

Each person’s experience with breast surgery will be unique, but knowing what to generally expect can help to alleviate any concerns or fears you may have about the process.


Wikipedia Breast Surgery
Mayo Clinic: Breast Cancer Surgery