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Mastectomy

Mastectomy is a surgical procedure which involves a removal of the breast. The breast is usually removed because of the cancer, but in some cases it is removed in order to prevent breast cancer. Depending on the exact position and the size of cancer, mastectomy may include the elimination of the entire breast, together with the nipples, muscles behind it and the lymph nodes, or it can include just the tissue of the breast.

Procedure

Mastectomy is performed under a general anesthesia and it takes about two hours. The surgeon will make the incisions on the breast and remove the affected tissue and close the wound. After the procedure a tube will be placed near the incision in order to drain the fluid. The tube will be removed after a couple of days. You will also be given some painkillers.

Complications

Mastectomy is considered to be a safe surgical procedure. However, there are some possible complications which may occur after mastectomy. Since it is performed after a general anesthesia, you may feel sick for some time after the procedure. Further complications of the surgery include blood loss, internal bleeding, allergic reaction to the medications given to you, problems with breathing, blood clots or hear attack. You may feel also pain in the breast, shoulder and arm if the lymph nodes have been removed. The wound can swell due to the excess amount of fluid under the scar. If this condition does not go away on its own after a week or two, your doctor will have to perform drainage. The wound can become infected after the surgery. The symptoms of infection include redness of the skin, pain and swelling. Your doctor will prescribe some antibiotics for the infection. If some of the nerves have been damaged during the surgery, this can cause numbness around the wound or even in the arm. If the arm becomes swollen and you feel pain in it, it can be a result of built up fluid. This condition is called lymphoedema and it can occur several months after mastectomy. It is important to see your doctor in case you experience any unusual changes.

Coping

After mastectomy your physical appearance will be changed. This can be very difficult and emotional for many women who had their breast removed. It is important for a woman to get both physical and psychological care after the surgery. At first you can wear special bra implants, but a lot of women decide on reconstructive surgery.

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