Dr. Harness describes a mastectomy.
Dr. Harness, M.D.:
The explanation of a mastectomy is removing the breast, but from 100, over 100 years ago when the radical mastectomy was first created, which meant removing the breast, the skin, the muscle, all the lymph nodes, we have dramatically changed what’s involved with a mastectomy.
And often we can save not only the majority of skin of the breast so that we can use that for immediate reconstruction, but now we are heading into an era of being able to save the areola, the dark pigmented area of the breast, and more and more patients are also eligible to potentially save the nipple.
Now, when I say saving the skin, saving the areola, and saving the nipple, the thought, of course, is they are going to be reconstructed, either with an implant or moving tissue into this area. If a woman says, “Look, I just want a mastectomy, I don’t want any reconstruction,” then typically what we do is remove nipple- areolar area and the skin of the breast so that the skin that’s left behind is flat on the chest wall, including some of the extra tissue out here in the armpit area so that it’s easier then to wear a prosthesis in, in her bra. There are even some prostheses, believe it or not, that you can stick on now, that are stick-on devices.
So it has a broad definition. Having to do a mastectomy does not anymore necessarily mean you have to have all your lymph nodes removed. That’s so important. The lymph nodes only need to be removed if we know they are positive upfront or if the sentinel lymph node biopsy procedure is positive. Then we go ahead and remove the rest of the lymph nodes.
About Dr. Harness, M.D.:
Dr. Jay Harness, M.D., is the Director at St. Joseph Hospital Comprehensive Breast Center. Practicing medicine for 35 years, Dr. Harness specializes in general surgery and medical oncology. Graduating medical school from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, he conducting his internship and residency at the University of Michigan Medical Center. Recognized nationally and internationally for his work in breast and endocrine surgery, Dr. Harness is the immediate past-President of The American Society of Breast Surgeons and is President-elect of Breast Surgery International. Dr. Harness can assist patients in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.