Mastectomy vs Breast Reduction for a post-cancer treated patient? (photo)

I had a good question come up in my Review: "Is breast reduction easier/less invasive than mastectomy? IDK. I sort of thought if they didn't take the lymph nodes or something it would be about the same? " Personally, I said it is more invasive because in a mastectomy you get into muscle, where in a BR you don't. Is that a correct assumption? Could someone explain the difference for us? I have my first consult coming up 13th.
Here is a link to my review.

Doctor Answers 5

Mastectomy vs breast reduction.

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The muscle has not been involved in mastectomy for over 50 years. Breast reduction is a technically more challenging operation but the healing time is about the same for both the procedures. 


Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Differences between breast reduction and mastectomy

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Whether a patient has a breast reduction or standard mastectomy, no muscle is removed. Some of the milk producing tissue is left behind and re-configured after a reduction, so you keep your original tissue texture, but (usually) have to commit to a scar pattern that looks like an anchor. The nipples are kept, and usually sensation stays in tact, but can be decreased or even lost, especially around the nipple. There is still a risk of breast cancer formation, so regular screening still is required after surgery. 

With Mastectomy, the milk producing tissue is removed, but the skin is left behind. Something must be put in place under the skin so that a breast form is there- usually an implant or tissue from another part of the body, for instance- tummy tuck tissue. Sensation is virtually always lost and the scar pattern can vary widely from an anchor, to a large line that removes the nipple, to a small line that is hidden at the bra line, depending on the patient, situation, and surgeon. Regular screening with a mammogram is no longer needed following mastectomy. 

Our center performs direct to implant, nipple sparing mastectomies with incisions hidden at the bra line 95% of the time. 

Heather Richardson, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills General Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Mastectomy vs Breast Reduction for a post-cancer treated patient? (photo)

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Breast reduction is an extremely technically demanding operation and requires much skill and expertise.  The plastic surgeon needs to plan many things in a breast reduction, contour, symmetry, nipple/areola neurovascular support, closure with minimal tension, to name a few.  None of these are crucial in a mastectomy.  Hope that answers your question.

Ruben B. Abrams, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Difference Between Mastectomy and Breast Reduction.

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Breast reduction is more technically demanding than a mastectomy because a reduction involves maintaining vascularity to the nipple/areola and creating a pleasing breast shape. Mastectomy removes all the breast tissue down to the muscle. There is no surgery on the muscle itself in either operation.

Robert M. Lowen, MD
Mountain View Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Mastectomy vs reduction

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A mastectomy removes all the breast while reduction reduces the size of the breast.  A mastectomy is done to treat breast cancer while a reduction is done to reduce the size of large breasts

Dr Corbin

Frederic H. Corbin, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

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.