Mastectomy is a surgical procedure where the doctor will be removing your entire breast and the nipple. This is done in most cases as a treatment for breast cancer. Sometimes the skin of the breast may be preserved as part of reconstruction.
You will have presented with a lump in your breast or discharge from the nipple or an ulcer/wound in your breast, retraction of the nipple etc. After a detailed evaluation and examination of your condition the doctor decided to take you for a mastectomy procedure. There are different types of mastectomy:
1. Simple mastectomy - It is the removal of breast tissue and nipple
2. Modified radical mastectomy - It is the removal of the breast, most of the lymph nodes under the arm, and often the lining over the chest muscles
3. Lumpectomy - It is the surgery to remove the tumour and a small amount of normal tissue around it.
4. Skin sparing mastectomy - Majority of the breast skin is preserved.
Clean the surgical wound with mild soap and water and keep it dry. Change the dressing daily. If clips or sutures were put from outside then you will need to visit the doctor for its removal.
If drains are placed to drain away blood and fluids keep it clean. Note the nature and amount of fluid coming out of it.
Do not try to wash or scrub surgical tape (Stern-strips) or glue. Let them fall off on their own. Be careful not to touch or remove the stern-strips or sutures.
Take the medications as prescribed.
When sitting, keep your arm on the side of your surgery up as high as your heart to help prevent swelling.
Do not allow anyone to check blood pressure, draw blood or give injection on the side of the surgery.
Common things to expect at home:
Pain at the surgery site that usually subsides with pain medications.
Shoulder stiffness, tingling and numbness which get better over time.
Swelling in the arm on the side of the surgery, lasts longer if appropriate care is not taken initially.
Blood and fluid may come out through the drain placed at the incision.
An odd feeling of losing your breast
Shoulder stiffness, tingling and numbness
Swelling in the arm on the side of the surgery called Lymphedema
Fluid might get collected at the surgery site after the drains are removed which is called a seroma.
Scabbing, blistering, or skin loss along the edge of the surgical cut
Other complications of a surgery like blood clots in the legs that might travel to your lungs, blood loss, and reaction to medications, difficulty in breathing, infections of the lungs, kidney, surgical scar etc.
You will have to come for follow up on day 7 for wound review and general check up. At this visit you will be given the laboratory report of the specimen that was removed during surgery. You discuss with your doctor about further line of treatment