Breast Removal (Mastectomy)
Why have Breast Removal Surgery (Mastectomy)?
A mastectomy is an extremely difficult procedure to go through as some women feel that the surgeon has not only removed their breast but also their womanhood. Your surgeon may suggest that it is necessary to speak to a counsellor before and after having this type of surgery, as the individual may feel very disconnected with real life.
After a Mastectomy, a patient may even find it hard to accept what has happened to them. This is why seeking professional help is necessary to bring the individual back to real life and help to cope with and accept what has happened. It can be a devastating experience not only for the woman going through the procedure, but also for their families. Some surgeons feel it is necessary to have a counsellor speak to the family in order to help them accept and assist each other with the recovery process.
Risks and Complications
Unfortunately like many other breast surgeries, there are always risks and complications that occur, especially with the more invasive kinds of mastectomies. Risks that come with a general anaesthetic include; suppressed breathing, lowered blood pressure, and the risk of heart attack, heart failure and even death. These will be discussed with the individual prior to the operation. Approximately one-third of patients who receive an anaesthetic during surgery will experience “anaesthesia sickness” or post-operative nausea and vomiting (POVN).
The mastectomy itself has a lot of risks and complications attached to it. These include infection of the scar area, keloid scaring which is where the scar becomes raised, red and sore.
A more serious complication associated with a mastectomy is PMPS, which stands for ‘Post-Mastectomy-Pain-Syndrome’ and according to statistics, between 20 to 60% of women who have the surgery, suffer with this problem. Symptoms for this include; tingling down their side and down their arm where the surgery took place, itching and pain in the shoulder and armpit area and finally, pain around the general area of the surgery resulting in the need for pain treatment.
Lymph node complications are also possible. When the lymph nodes are removed from around the chest and armpit area this could leave the arm in real trouble. The lymphatic system drains the toxins from the blood stream and so without them, this could leave your arm open to serious issues.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. Does my insurance cover the cost for my mastectomy?
A. The majority of insurance companies will cover the costs of your mastectomy and with this, they then must also cover the costs for any reconstructive surgeries you may have in the future. Of course it depends on the insurance company so the best way to find out is to contact them directly.
Q. How long does a mastectomy operation take?
A. Normally, a mastectomy will take around 2 to 3 hours without complications.
Q. How long do I have to stay in hospital after my mastectomy?
A. Depending on whether or not there have been any complications during your procedure, the normal stay is around 4 to 7 days. If your surgeon has inserted drains into the breasts then as soon as the drains run clear and do not have blood in them, then they can be removed and the individual can be accessed to go home.