Is skin-sparing mastectomy dangerous?

The prospect of breast surgery is understandably worrying and there are many important aspects to consider. You want to have an operation that puts safety first, but as far as possible preserves healthy tissue and the base for effective reconstruction. In an excellent article written in plain English Professor Kefah Mokbel explains how to get the balance into perspective with specific regard to a procedure termed skin-sparing mastectomy (SSM).

If you have immediate or delayed breast reconstruction following a conventional mastectomy it will often result in prominent scars on the new breast and a paddle of skin that is with a different colour and texture.  Skin-sparing mastectomy preserves most of the overlying skin during an immediate breast reconstruction and gives a far superior aesthetic outcome.  It also reduces the need for breast adjustments in order to achieve symmetry.

Surprisingly, in a recent survey in the UK, 35 out of 95 breast surgeons avoided SSM because of concerns over oncological safety or uncertainty of the benefits or indications.  This article reviews the controversies surrounding SSM and Professor Mokbel explains in detail the circumstances where SSM can be safely considered.

Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of all living organisms. Full medical glossary
A group of cells with a similar structure and a specialised function. Full medical glossary