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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A skin-sparing mastectomy (SSM) is surgery to remove breast tissue and leave the skin over the breast. SSM is done to treat breast cancer and keep cancer from spreading. Only the nipple and areola (dark circle around the nipple) are removed. It may also include where you had a biopsy or where there is a tumor close to the skin. SSM is usually done if you plan to have breast reconstruction at the same time. SSM may also be done as a form of prevention if you are at high risk for breast cancer.
HOW TO PREPARE:
The week before your surgery:
- Arrange to have someone drive you home after your surgery. Do not drive yourself home.
- Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
- Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
- Tell your caregiver if you know or think you might be pregnant.
- You may need to donate blood before your surgery. Your blood is stored in case you need it during or after your surgery.
- You may need to have blood and urine tests, a mammogram, chest x-ray, and other tests. Ask your caregiver for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
The night before your surgery:
- You may be given medicine to help you sleep.
- Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
The day of your surgery:
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
- Ask your caregiver before taking any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
- Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
- An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN:
What will happen:
- You may be given medicine to help you relax or make you drowsy. You may also get anesthesia medicine to keep you completely asleep during surgery.
- Caregivers will make an incision around your areola. The incision may be larger to include a biopsy scar or the skin over a superficial tumor. The tumor and breast tissue will be removed. The underarm lymph nodes may also be removed through the same incision, or through a second incision under the arm. Caregivers may need to cut more of your skin if you have large breasts. They may then do reconstruction surgery to fill in the empty breast. Thin rubber tubes may be put into your skin to drain blood from your incision. The incisions will then be closed with stitches and covered with bandages.
After your surgery:
You will be taken to a room where you can rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely. Do not try to get out of bed. When caregivers see that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.
CONTACT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IF:
- You cannot make it to your surgery on time.
- You have a fever.
- You have a skin infection or an infected wound near the area where surgery will be done.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery.
Seek Care Immediately if
- You feel a new lump in your chest or other breast, or under your arm.
- You see or feel other changes in your breast.
- You have discharge coming from your breast.
- You have redness, swelling, or severe pain in the breast.
- You may bleed more than expected, get an infection, or have trouble breathing after surgery. You may get a blood clot in your arm or leg. The clot may travel to your heart or brain and cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. You may have scars, shoulder stiffness, or swelling around the area where the breast was removed. If SSM is done with breast reconstruction, the breast skin may become folded and deformed. The skin may die and you may need another surgery. The cancer may come back even after successful treatment.
- If left untreated, breast cancer can spread to other parts of your body, such as your liver, lungs, and brain. It may become life-threatening.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.