What Is a Skin-Sparing Mastectomy and Is It Necessary for Breast Reconstruction?

Question: What is a skin-sparing mastectomy and does this need to be done for breast reconstruction?

Answer: A skin-sparing mastectomy is when we try to save as much of the skin of the breast as possible and only take the skin that's around the tumor and usually the nipple itself. But the rest of the breast tissue is removed. This is what you would do in a normal mastectomy. And this is also done in conjunction with immediate breast reconstruction. The advantage of doing a skin-sparing mastectomy is that we're providing the plastic surgeon with a skin envelope, or a skin pocket -- if you think of it like a pita pocket, not made of bread, but made of skin -- so the plastic surgeon can use that to fill the inside with either a saline implant or the patient's tissue from another location of the body.

Next: Is Recurrence Risk Greater If I Have a Skin-Sparing Mastectomy Than With a Conventional Mastectomy?

Eva Singletary, MD
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