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Mastectomy Risk


Most women recover with no complications; however, as with any surgery, risks are involved.

The risks of any surgery include infection, bleeding, those risks associated with general anesthesia (for example, heart  and lung  problems), and reaction to medications.

Risks specifically related to the mastectomy itself are numbness of the breast skin and necrosis (tissue death) of the breast skin. The numbness requires no treatment. Necrosis of the skin may require a return to the operating room for revision of the scar.

Risks specifically related to mastectomy in which the lymph nodes in the armpit (axillary lymph nodes) are removed include swelling of the arm (called lymphedema) and possible injury to the nerves in the armpit area.

When to Seek Medical Care

A woman should contact a health-care provider if any of the following occur after a mastectomy:

  • Fever
  • Signs of an infection (such as excessive redness at the incision site)
  • Increased drainage of fluid
  • The stitches come out


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