Dr. Harness describes a double mastectomy.
Dr. Harness, M.D.:
A double mastectomy is removing both the breasts. Now, it can be done without reconstruction, and therefore you would not save the nipple-areolar area, and if you are doing a double mastectomy, you would want to maximize the removal of the skin so that the skin lies flat against the chest wall so that if the patient chooses to wear prostheses, those prostheses will fit well.
Double mastectomy can also be done with immediate reconstruction. In that case, the options are saving the majority, if not all the skin, but an emerging option is saving the areola, the pigmented area of the breast and the nipples. And to know if you are a candidate for that, you need to ask your surgeon about am I a candidate for that.
One of the difficulties with that procedure in larger, sometimes older breasted patients, older age patients, is if the breast is drooping too much, it’s very challenging to be able to save the nipple and areolar area, but still we can save the majority of the skin, do immediate reconstruction, and then recreate the nipple-areolar area later on, and often the patient is happy because the breast is lifted back up, even though the nipple-areolar area isn’t there.
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.