In some cases, you may also receive a peripheral nerve block infusion in addition to general anesthesia. This type of anesthesia involves an injection or a continuous drip of a liquid anesthetic, which flows through a tiny tube inserted near your surgical site to control pain during and/or after surgery.
What to expect the day of your mastectomy
The day of your surgery, you can expect to:
- Talk with a pre-operative nurse. The nurse will perform an exam and ensure that all needed tests are in order. The nurse can also answer questions and will make sure that you sign the surgical consent.
- Remove all clothing and jewelry and dress in a hospital gown. It is a good idea to leave all jewelry and valuables at home or with a family member if possible. The surgical team will respect your privacy and give you blankets for modesty and warmth in the surgical suite.
- Talk with the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist about your medical history and the type of anesthesia you will receive.
- A surgical team member will start an IV.
- The anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will start your anesthesia. During general anesthesia, your anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will place a tube in your lungs to protect and control your breathing. You will not feel or remember this or the surgical procedure as they happen.
- The surgical team will monitor your vital signs and other critical body functions. This occurs throughout the procedure and your recovery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable.
What are the risks and potential complications of mastectomy?
Any surgery involves risks and potential complications. Complications may become serious and life threatening in some cases. Complications can develop during the procedure or throughout your recovery.
General risks of surgery
The general risks of surgical procedures include:
- Adverse reaction or problems related to anesthesia, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing
- Bleeding, which can lead to shock
- Blood clots, in particular a deep vein thrombosis that develops in the leg or pelvis. A blood clot can travel to your lungs, heart or brain and cause a pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke.
- Infection and septicemia, which is the spread of a local infection to the blood
Potential complications of mastectomy
Complications of mastectomy can occur and become serious. You can reduce the risk of potential complications and help manage complications if any occur by following the treatment plan you and your surgeon design specifically for you. Potential complications include:
- Damage to nearby organs, such as the lymph nodes and lungs
- Fluid buildup under the incision scar, which could be a hematoma (blood) or a seroma (clear fluid)
- Hardening of the incision scar
- Lymphedema, swelling of the arm on the side of the removed lymph nodes
- Numbness, tenderness, or sensitivity of the surgery site due to cut nerves
- Weakness of the arm muscles due to nerve damage
- Opening of the external incision
- Shoulder pain or soreness on the side of the removed breast (occurring mostly with radical mastectomy)
Reducing your risk of complications
You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan including:
- Ensuring that all members of you care team are aware of any allergies you have
- Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before surgery and during recovery. This includes physical therapy, occupational therapy and other rehabilitation treatments.
- Informing your doctor if you are nursing or there is any possibility that you may be pregnant
- Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, increase in pain, or wound redness, swelling or drainage
- Taking your medications exactly as directed
How do I prepare for my mastectomy?
You are a very important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before surgery can significantly improve your outcome after the procedure. You can prepare yourself for mastectomy by:
© Copyright 2012 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.