Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"What happens after a mastectomy?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat happens after a mastectomy?


Can you describe the healing process after a mastectomy? I'm not sure if I'm going to get one, but as I wait for the results of my biopsy to come back, I'm considering my options. Is the healing process difficult? Is it any worse for a double mastectomy versus a single mastectomy?


These decisions are difficult, but important. Therefore it is imperative that you gain as much information as possible before making this decision. The best way to get informed is for you to write down every question you have and hand it to the surgeon when you meet with him or her before the operation. The healing process after mastectomy depends on whether you choose to have reconstructive surgery at the same time or not. This is a personal decision that no one else can make for you. In general, women heal quite quickly and are back functioning normally within a month or so. Quite often, only the cancerous area along with some lymph nodes need to be removed allowing for conservation of most of the breast which yields better cosmetic results. The only utility of double mastectomy is if the patient desires to greatly reduce her likelihood of developing breast cancer in the future. This decision will depend highly on your age and family history of breast cancer. In summary, only the surgeon performing the mastectomy can tell you for sure what your options are, what the risks of each decision will be, and what your next best step should be with your personal preferences in mind. Good luck.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.