Breast surgery : Specialists

What is breast surgery?

Breast surgery is surgery carried out on the breasts as either a form of oncology (cancer) treatment, e.g. breast reconstruction or for cosmetic reasons, e.g. breast augmentation.

What is a breast surgeon?

This is a highly trained individual who performs surgery on the breasts. They may specialise in cosmetic breast surgery such as mastopexy, breast oncology surgery such as mastectomy or plastic surgery to reconstruct the breast following a mastectomy. There are surgeons who carry out both cancer and plastic surgery who are known as oncoplastic surgeons.

What does a breast surgeon do?

A breast surgeon will undertake surgery on the breast for a variety of reasons which include:

  • Breast biopsy: removing a small section of breast tissue to check for signs of cancer. If a tumour is present a biopsy will be performed to determine if this is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). If it is malignant then a mastectomy may be performed.
  • Mastectomy: the partial or complete removal of a breast in order to treat breast cancer. This procedure is carried out on both men and women and can also be performed as a preventative measure. It is performed on those people who are at a high risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Lumpectomy: this is a less radical form of breast surgery which involves the removal of a lump from the breast. This procedure is less invasive than a mastectomy and means that the breast is preserved rather than removed.
  • Breast reconstruction: this is performed when a patient has undergone a mastectomy. This is a complex form of surgery which requires more than one procedure and over a long period of time.
  • Mastopexy: another name for a breast lift. This is a cosmetic surgery procedure which lifts sagging breasts to improve their shape and position. This is performed as a means of defying the ageing process, gravity or lifting breasts which have drooped as a result of excessive weight loss.
  • Breast reduction: another cosmetic surgery procedure which reduces large or too heavy breasts. This is mainly performed on women but can be carried out on men suffering from gynecomastia.

There is another form of surgery which is similar to a mastectomy but less extensive called breast conserving surgery. It involves the removal of breast tissue to check for signs of cancer but does not result in complete removal of the breast itself.

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