During the Procedure
- An intravenous (IV) line administers medicines that may be required during surgery.
- Heart function is monitored by an ECG machine.
- A blood-pressure cuff is placed on the woman's arm to monitor her blood pressure during surgery.
- The operation site is washed and sterilized.
- Sterile drapes are placed over the woman to guard against infection. Only the operation site is kept uncovered.
- General anesthesia is administered. The woman may be given a dose of antibiotics to prevent infection.
- The surgeon makes an incision depending on the planned procedure.
- The surgeon removes the underlying breast tissue. This breast tissue is removed and sent to a pathology laboratory for analysis. A pathologist examines the tissue under a microscope to determine if it is benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
- The skin is closed with stitches or staples.
- Drainage tubes are usually inserted into the operation
site to drain out blood and fluid that may continue to ooze out of the tissues after the skin is closed.
- A pressure dressing may be placed over the operation site to minimize the oozing after the surgery.
- The duration of the operation depends on the type of mastectomy being
performed. Most mastectomies take one to two hours, not including the time required for any lymph node procedures (sentinel lymph node biopsy or axillary node dissection) or reconstruction procedures.
Leigh A Neumayer, MD, MS, FACS
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