Mastectomy: What to Expect During a Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Breast Cancer
February 19, 2021
2 min read
Mastectomy: What to Expect During a Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Having breast reconstruction can be one of the scariest moments of a person’s life. Whether you make this decision because of your personal risk of breast cancer or because you have a diagnosis of breast cancer, knowing what to expect can bring a little comfort to an uncomfortable situation.

What You Should Know About a Mastectomy

Mastectomy, otherwise known as a surgery to remove one or both breasts, partially or completely, is not uncommon. More than 100,000U.S women alone have some form of a mastectomy each year. Before the actual surgery, patients will have several appointments leading up to it. Doctors often recommend that the patient attend a support group to help with the emotional hurdles and healing that will take place before and after the procedure. 

The Surgery

It is highly recommended that the patient have a close family member at the surgery for support. 

In the hospital on the day of surgery, the surgeon or a nurse may draw markings on the breast that show where the incision will be made. Usually, this is done with a felt-tip marker. The patient will be sitting up while this happens so that the natural crease of their breast can be marked.   

A mastectomy can take between 2 and 3 hours. If reconstruction is performed at the same time, surgery will take longer. Most mastectomy incisions are in the shape of an oval around the nipple, running across the width of the breast. This can be altered depending on what type of mastectomy is needed. 

After the incision is made, the breast tissue is separated from the overlying skin and the chest wall muscle underneath. All of the breast tissue, which lies between the collarbone and ribs, from the side of the body to the breastbone in the center, is removed. 

In the final stages of the surgery, the breast surgeon will check the surgery areas for bleeding and insert surgical drains. Drains are long tubes that are inserted into the breast area or armpit to collect excess fluid that can accumulate in the space where the tumor was. After the drains are inserted, the surgeon will stitch the incision closed. The surgery site will then be covered by a bandage that wraps around the patient’s chest.


Right after the surgery, you will feel weak. You may feel sore for a few days or a few weeks after, depending on the depth of your surgery. You will likely have drainage from your incision that will need to be removed during the first few weeks after surgery. After several weeks, you may be able to return to your normal routine, but remember to listen to your body. Continue going to your support groups or seek one-on-one counseling, as the first few weeks of seeing one’s self may be hard to swallow.

Learn More About Breast Reconstruction Surgery

At BASS Medical Group, we have several specialists who have the honor of helping with mastectomies. We can discuss your treatment options and support you throughout the surgery and recovery. Get in touch with us today at (925) 350-4044 to learn more.