I Am Booked in to Have a Bilateral Prophylactic Mastectomy and Would Like to Know Where the Scarring Would Be Please?

Doctor Answers 5

Scarring After Mastectomy

While this depends on the technique used by your surgical oncologist, the most common scar after mastectomy is horizontally across the width of the entire breast at the level of the nipple. In order to remove the nipple areolar complex and the breast gland as a single specimen, most general surgeons opt to use an ellipse with a transverse orientation. This approach is commonly followed by a two-stage breast reconstruction with the tissue expander/implant technique.

Several modifications of this technique do exist, and depend--in part--on the nature of breast reconstruction.  In certain cases, a circumareolar approach may be used. This is essentially a "lollipop" scar that is around the nipple with a horizontal component extending laterally. This may be employed in cases of natural tissue breast reconstruction (e.g. TRAM or DIEP flap) as the reconstructed tissue may be sewn into the old nipple location.

The most exciting new techniques are the so-called nipple-sparing mastectomy approaches. In these operations, the nipple remains in place, and the scar is made around the bottom of the nipple and horizontally toward the outside of the chest. Because the nipple is not removed, the general surgeon needs to take an additional specimen from the underside of the nipple to make sure there is no residual breast tissue or cancer in that location. This technique provides the potential for a more natural appearing nipple areolar complex, and multiple reconstructive techniques can be employed. A single stage, immediate breast reconstruction with implants has also gained recent attention. If there is enough skin remaining after mastectomy surgery (i.e. in women with previously large breasts) a breast implant can be placed at the time of the original surgery, and no further tissue expansion or implant exchange is required.

Regardless of the mastectomy and reconstructive techniques used, a double prophylactic mastectomy has become a common choice of action for women at high risk who wish to avoid the possibility of developing breast cancer. With the help of your board certified plastic surgeon, this can be a rewarding decision that can provide you with peace of mind, cancer-free.

This is a question that needs to be covered with your breast surgeon and plastic surgeon.

There are traditional incisions around the areola in skin sparing mastectomy. There are several others depending on other factors. 

Three basic forms of breast reconstruction exist. You can use your own tissue, implants or a combination of the previous two techniques. Your own tissue can be used in the form of the DIEP flap, PAP flap, SGAP flap or fat grafting. Implants can be done in one stage or two stage. Two stage reconstructions are started by placing expanders at the time of mastectomy. Once they expanders are placed they are able to be inflated as determined by wound healing. The final time consists of combining any of the above techniques.

If you are interested in being seen in Austin please give us a call. I know this is a difficult time for you. The majority of my practice is devoted to reconstruction for women with breast cancer or who are BRCA+

Scarring after Prophylactic Mastectomy

Thank you for your question.   Much of the literature published in the breast surgery literature centers around preservation of the nipple/areola when possible and skin incision design to maximize cosmesis.

My preferred method is a lollipop or question mark incision which traces the areola border and then extends vertically to the crease/inframammary fold.   The advantage of this technique is that it allows us to apply our principles of breast lift to breast reconstruction.

I have performed breast lifts on several DIEP Flap breast reconstruction patients with this method to help achieve optimal shape and symmetry.   

The beauty of nipple/areola preservation with this technique is that I can achieve results that mimic a breast lift or breast reduction longterm.

I wish you a safe recovery and fantastic result.

Dr. GIll

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 82 reviews

Prophylactic mastectomy scars

vary depending on what you start with and whether you are having reconstruction at the same time.  Your surgeon whom you choose to do this for you should be able to clearly show you what scars you have to accept.  And then you have to discuss whether your nipple should be 'saved' and I would suggest you at least consider keeping it as nipples are very hard to reconstruct with results that hold up long-term.

Curtis Wong, MD
Redding Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Mastectomy scar location

This question should be directed to your breast surgeon.   I am assuming that your mastectomy will be skin-sparing mastectomy.. Most times, the scar is in the middle of the breast, where the nipple/areola used to be.  Some surgeons may place scar on the bra line.  You should talk with your breast surgeon prior to your surgery to have all your questions/concerns addressed.  In surgery, there are several different ways to do the same type of surgery.  Best wishes with your surgery. 

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.