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Mastectomy is surgery to remove the breast. The most common mastectomies are called simple (or total) and modified radical. During these procedures, the chest muscle is not removed. As a result, arm strength remains. Keeping the chest muscle also makes reconstruction easier.
During a simple mastectomy, the breast tissue (lobules, ducts, and fatty tissue) and a strip of skin containing the nipple are removed. This surgery most often requires a hospital stay. Based on the results of surgery and follow-up tests, further treatment may be needed.
This type of mastectomy is usually done to treat invasive cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes. During the mastectomy the breast tissue and a strip of skin with the nipple is removed. Some of the axillary lymph nodes are also removed. The removed nodes are tested for cancer. Sometimes a surgical drain is placed to keep fluid from building up. This drain usually stays in for 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. Modified radical mastectomy almost always requires a hospital stay. Based on the results of the surgery and follow-up tests, further treatment may also be needed.
Pain or numbness under the arm
Bleeding or infection
Stiffness of the shoulder
Fluid collection (seroma)
Long-term swelling of the arm (lymphedema)
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