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Facts About Breast Surgery

Posted by Joanna Culley on

When we first hear about any type of breast procedure, we usually think either of breast augmentation surgery or breast removal, but in fact, there is a wide variety of breast surgeries that both women and many can undergo depending on their specific health or cosmetic needs. In this article, you will find the most common types of breast surgery. In general terms, breast surgery can be classified into five main categories:

  • Breast augmentation: This surgery is also known as augmentation mammoplasty. Women are more likely to have this procedure done than men. It is done in order to achieve a better size and appearance in the breast area. In most cases, a saline or silicone implant is placed under or over the pectoral muscles after the patient has previously chosen the desired size. 

  • Breast reduction: Also known as reduction mammoplasty, it is done when the size of the breasts are disproportionate to the patient’s body structure and cause ailments like skin irritation, bra straps indentations, back and neck pain. After the surgery, large scarring and pain are expected, however, it preserves breasts’ functions and sensations.
  • Breast reconstruction: This surgery is done when the goal is to recreate the desired appearance, contour or shape in the breast and the areola. It is typically done if the sensory nerves or milk glands are injured and stop a woman from properly breastfeeding. An implant or a woman’s own tissue can be used during this procedure. 
  • Breast lift: Also known as mastopexy, patients undergo this procedure when their breast skin is not strong enough to hold the tissue and it eventually sags.
  • Breast correction: This procedure is done in order to achieve greater symmetry between the two breasts.

However, diseases like breast cancer are also very likely to procure different types of surgeries, either removing a small area, the entire breast or reconstructing the whole tissue; it depends greatly on the size and location of cancer and the size of your breasts. These are the most common ones:

  • Lumpectomy: Also known as breast-conserving surgery, partial mastectomy or wide local excision. This surgery’s main goal is to remove the area of cancer in the breast, along with a small portion of healthy tissue. Radiotherapy is a suggested treatment after this type of breast surgery.
  • Lymph nodes surgery: When cancer starts to spread out around this area, it is most commonly found in the lymph nodes located in the armpit. Lymph nodes filter out bacteria and damaged cells from the lymphatic fluid, but if cancer cells are found in them, your doctor will probably suggest removing all or most of them from under your arm.
  • Mastectomy: This is probably the most common type of breast cancer surgery, or at least it was in the past before less invasive procedures were widely available to the patients. However, this surgery is also frequent as part of sex reassignment processes, especially on transgender individuals. This procedure includes removing tissue from one or both breasts, and it is usually done so cancer does not spread or develop in other parts of the body. Total mastectomies remove the entire affected breast but leave the chest muscles and lymph nodes underneath, while double mastectomies remove both breasts as a preventive measure.


Can anybody have any type of breast implants?

Generally speaking, yes. A mammoplasty is a relatively straightforward procedure with high percentages of success, however, in the case of certain types of implants (like silicone gel-filled implants), the patient must be at least 25 years old and multiple studies must be done to determine if she is the right candidate for the surgery.

Lymphoedema is more common than what you think

This condition is sometimes the result of a lymph node removal surgery or when the nodes are damaged by radiotherapy treatments for breast cancer. What happens is that the regular lymphatic fluid from the arms, armpits, and breasts is restricted and can cause pain and swelling around the area. When detected earlier, it is easily treatable.

Are there more types of mastectomies?

In fact, there are several more, and your physician should always evaluate which one is the best alternative for each patient’s needs and wishes. Other types of mastectomies are radical mastectomies and modified radical mastectomies, where both breasts and lymph nodes are removed. Chest walls are also likely to be removed. 

Is it possible to leave the skin intact after a mastectomy?

Surgeries like skin-sparing mastectomy are designed to remove affected breast tissue and nipple while leaving the skin intact. On the other hand, brand new surgeries like nipple-sparing mastectomy are able to leave the nipple, the peripheral breast tissue and the skin intact.

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