Finding the Right Doctor for Mastectomy

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Talk with Your Doctor, doctors

If you need a mastectomy, you’ll want a highly qualified general surgeon to perform the procedure. Some general surgeons specialize in treating breast disease and may use the term breast surgeon. How do you find the best surgeon who is right for you? Here are important factors to keep in mind. 


Top Things to Look For

Find a general surgeon who:

  • Is board certified and who specializes in breast surgery
  • Has experience treating patients with your specific condition
  • Practices at a hospital known to have high-quality outcomes in breast surgery in general 
  • Accepts your insurance
  • You are comfortable talking with and who fully answers your questions

Here are five steps to finding the best general surgeon to perform your mastectomy.

1. Ask Around

Ask for referrals from the doctor who diagnosed your breast cancer. Also ask your primary care doctor or another specialist who knows you well. Family members, friends, and others you know with breast cancer also may have suggestions. If you’re starting without any referrals, or you’re looking for more options, search Healthgrades.com for general surgeons and breast surgeons. 

Healthgrades.com shows patient satisfaction ratings, which give you insight into how your own experience might be with the doctor. Patients rate the doctor and the doctor’s medical practice, and say if they would recommend the doctor to family and friends.

2. Research Credentials and Experience

Take time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience. Look for a doctor who is board certified in surgery and performs mastectomies on a regular basis. The more experience a doctor has treating your condition or performing mastectomies, the better prepared the surgeon is to anticipate and prevent complications.  

Also, confirm that the doctor is in good standing with state and federal agencies and that he or she has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. 

You’ll find all this information on Healthgrades.com.

3. Examine Hospital Performance

Surgical procedures require a team of highly skilled and experienced healthcare professionals. For this reason, you should also consider the overall quality of surgical care at the hospital where the surgeon practices. 

Find out where the surgeons on your list can treat patients; then research those hospitals on Healthgrades.com. Healthgrades evaluates hospitals on mortality and complication rates of patients while in the hospital for a range of common procedures. 

If a particular hospital falls short in quality, determine if the surgeon also operates at a different facility. Otherwise, find a surgeon who treats patients at a hospital likely to offer you the best possible outcome. Your preferred hospital probably has a doctor directory on its website. This also can help you find a mastectomy surgeon.

4. Interview the Surgeon

As you narrow down your list of surgeons, call each surgeon’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the doctor. You’re looking for a doctor who is a good fit for you.

  • Ask yourself if you are comfortable talking with the doctor. 
  • Does he or she respect your opinions and answer your questions in a way you understand? 

Here are some questions to ask the doctor:

  • Do you typically treat patients like me?
  • How many mastectomies have you performed?
  • What results do you usually see? Do you have outcomes data to share?
  • How frequently do you encounter complications from the surgery? 
  • What do you do to avoid complications or correct them if they occur?

5. Determine Your Insurance Benefit 

Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. To receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your surgery, you need to choose a surgeon that participates in your plan. Check out your health insurance’s doctor directories to verify that a surgeon is in your network.

But keep in mind, just because a doctor participates in your insurance plan doesn’t mean he or she is a high-quality doctor. You still need to consider the doctor’s experience and expertise.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Sep 13
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.