In simple mastectomy, the entire breast is removed, including the nipple and the areola, the darker-colored area of skin around the nipple. This procedure is also called total mastectomy. Simple mastectomy is advised when there is a need or desire to remove the entire breast.
A simple mastectomy without reconstruction may be completed in approximately two hours. A single incision across half the chest usually allows the surgeon to remove the breast and examine the lymph nodes.
After the surgeon completes the mastectomy, a plastic drain is placed to draw off fluid. The end of this drain is attached to a pocket-sized suction device. The patient is instructed in the care and monitoring of the drainage until the drain is removed a week or more after surgery.
Most patients do not experience excessive pain following simple mastectomy. It is common to use some pain medication for the first few days after surgery and then an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed.
Expect fatigue following surgery. Simple mastectomy is emotionally and physically draining. The procedure usually involves a one- or two-night hospital stay.
In most cases of early-stage breast cancer, radiation treatment is not recommended after simple mastectomy. Radiation may be recommended if: