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Skin Sparing Mastectomy (SSM)

By HERWriter
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Breast cancer strikes fear in women. Not only is there concern of loss of life but for women, the loss of one's breast affects their view of being complete. Depending on what type of cancer has been diagnosed and how much it has spread to surrounding tissue different surgeries will be recommended by a breast surgeon. In certain cases, women may be candidates for skin sparing mastectomy which can greatly assist in an improved appearance of their breast reconstruction.

What is Skin-Sparing Mastectomy?

During a simple or total mastectomy, the breast surgeon removes the entire breast and skin but leaves the lymph nodes and muscle tissue intact under the breast. With skin sparing mastectomy, the surgeon removes the cancerous breast tissue through a keyhole incision made around the nipple and areola. The nipple and areola are removed.

The surrounding skin remains mostly intact creating a pocket that will allow reconstruction to take place inside. Breast reconstruction takes place either by using an artificial breast implant or by inserting tissue and muscle located close by that is nourished by its own blood supply for healing.

Candidates for Skin-Sparing Mastectomy are:

1. If breast cancer has not spread into the surrounding skin.
2. If radiation treatments have not damaged skin on the breast.
3. If in the early stages of breast cancer.
4. If a lumpectomy is suggested, can be an alternative
5. For those who have a high risk of breast cancer and want preventive mastectomies performed, i.e. test positive for Brca gene changes, strong family history or already had cancer removed in the other breast.
6. If the specific type of breast cancer is non invasive and still only in the cells it began.

Reconstruction of the breast can be done either at the same time as the mastectomy surgery or can be done later as long as the skin is free of cancer involvement. However, it is most important for the skin sparing mastectomies to be performed by surgeons experienced with this technique and should be discussed with your doctor beforehand.

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HERWriter Guide

Michelle - Thanks for including the link to the list of questions to ask your physician and medical team. The decision on whether or not to have a mastectomy, and everything that surrounds it, can be very emotional. Having fact-based resources available, such as your article and the questions check list, is very helpful. Take care, Pat

February 8, 2010 - 6:00pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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