A skin-sparing mastectomy is a breast cancer procedure in which a specialist removes all glands and tissues but spares the skin. The risk of developing breast cancer in America is 12%, according to the American Cancer Society.

Benefits of Skin-sparing Mastectomy

During a traditional mastectomy, surgeons remove all tissues, glands, and breast skin.  The treatment leads to a negative psychological impact due to scaring and losing a body part. However, skin-sparing reduces the adverse effect. It also allows surgeons to reconstruct the breast without scaring and in a more natural way.

Procedure for Treatment

The surgeon removes the original biopsy scar, nipple, and the skin surrounding the nipple. This step creates an opening through which the surgeon performs the mastectomy.

The procedure is suitable for simple mastectomies and cases where cancer has spread to surrounding areas such as the lymph nodes. Doctors advise having a skin-sparing mastectomy if:

  1. The patient will not have reconstructive surgery soon after mastectomy
  2. The skin is part of the tumor, especially in inflammatory breast cancer patients
  3. The cancer cells are close to the skin
  4. Patient smokes because it leads to impaired wound healing

Types of Mastectomy

  • Modified radical mastectomy- The surgeon removes areola, breast, lymph nodes, and nipple
  • Total or simple mastectomy encompasses – The surgeon removes nipple, breast, and areola, but the lymph nodes remain
  • Risk-reducing mastectomy – Treatment involves the removal of one or both breasts. It is suitable for women who test positive for BRCA2 and BRCA1 genes. Also, for women with a family history of the disease.
  • Nipple-sparing mastectomy –Incisions are made through the armpits or underneath the breast. The surgeon preserves the areola, skin, and nipple, but he removes the breast tissue.
  • Scar sparing mastectomy – The surgeon removes the breast tissue with minimally visible scars.

Options for Reconstruction

It depends on the stage of cancer, expertise, service available, need for further treatment, and personal choice.

  • Immediate reconstruction happens immediately after mastectomy.
  • Delayed reconstruction happens after mastectomy. It is necessary if the patient needs additional treatment, such as radiation.

Skin sparing mastectomy is safe, but patients might experience the following complications:

  • Swelling at the incision site
  • Temporary shoulder pain or stiffness
  • Nerves around the breast suffer some damage

Just like with other treatments, breast cancer can return. Radiation, hormone, targeted, and chemotherapy are examples of further treatment options.