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Male Mastectomy: Understanding the Procedure and Considerations

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Mastectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the breast tissue affected by cancer, is the most common treatment for men with breast cancer. Similar to mastectomy in women, this surgery is essential for eliminating cancerous growth. Given that men typically have less breast tissue, complete breast removal is often recommended, along with the possibility of removing nearby lymph nodes to prevent cancer spread. In some cases, doctors may suggest removing the unaffected breast as a preventive measure. The decision regarding surgery is influenced by factors such as cancer stage and overall health. It is crucial to have a thorough discussion with your doctor to understand the surgical options, benefits, and risks before making a decision.

Before the Surgery: Before undergoing mastectomy, it's essential to have a comprehensive consultation with your surgeon. Provide detailed information about all medications and supplements you are taking, especially if you are on aspirin or blood thinners. Depending on your specific case, your doctor may recommend discontinuing certain medications a week or two before the procedure.

During the Surgery: During the mastectomy surgery, an intravenous (IV) line will be inserted into a vein in your arm to administer anesthesia, ensuring you remain asleep throughout the procedure and do not experience pain.


men mastectomy procedure

Types of Mastectomy: There are different types of mastectomy procedures, including:

  1. Simple or Total Mastectomy: Removes the entire breast, including the nipple.

  2. Modified Radical Mastectomy: Removes the whole breast, nipple, and numerous lymph nodes under the arm.

  3. Radical Mastectomy: Removes the whole breast, lymph nodes, and the chest wall muscles beneath the breast.

  4. Partial Mastectomy or Lumpectomy: Removes the tumor and some surrounding tissue, often referred to as breast-conserving surgery. This approach is less common in men due to limited breast tissue.

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB) and Axillary Lymph Node Dissection (ALND): To determine whether cancer has spread, procedures like Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB) and Axillary Lymph Node Dissection (ALND) may be performed during or after mastectomy:

  1. SLNB involves sampling a few lymph nodes most likely to be affected by cancer. A radioactive substance or dye is used to locate these nodes.

  2. ALND entails removing a larger number of lymph nodes from under the arm for examination under a microscope.

Recovery and Post-Surgery: Following the mastectomy, you will wake up from anesthesia in a recovery room. In most cases, you will return home later the same day or the following day. Expect to have a bandage around your chest, as well as plastic or rubber drainage tubes to remove fluids from the breast area or underarm. Your medical team will provide guidance on caring for and emptying these drains, which may be in place for 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. Additional Treatments: In some cases, your doctor may recommend additional treatments to eradicate any remaining cancer cells. These treatments may include:

  1. Radiation therapy: High-energy beams target cancerous cells.

  2. Chemotherapy: Potent drugs are used to eliminate cancer cells.

  3. Hormone therapy (depending on the cancer type).

Reconstructive Considerations: While men typically do not opt for reconstructive surgery with implants, there are options to improve the appearance of the affected breast and reconstruct the nipple, making it look more natural. Risks: Mastectomy is generally considered a safe procedure, but all surgeries carry inherent risks. Possible side effects and complications include:

  1. Pain

  2. Swelling

  3. Bleeding

  4. Infection

  5. Changes in the appearance of the chest

  6. Arm swelling (lymphedema, due to lymph node removal)

  7. Difficulty in arm and shoulder movement

  8. Hematoma (blood buildup in the wound)

  9. Seroma (fluid buildup in the wound)

Understanding these risks and discussing them with your medical team will help you make informed decisions about your mastectomy procedure.


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