Men with breast cancer > Breast reconstruction for men

Breast reconstruction for men


Reconstruction, or reconstructive surgery, is surgery to make the area where a breast was removed look more like it did before.

Most men with breast cancer have surgery of some type. In a modified radical mastectomy, which is the most common breast cancer surgery for men, nearly all your breast tissue will be removed on one side of your chest. About 70 percent of all men with breast cancer will have this kind of surgery. This is usually accompanied by an axillary sentinel lymph node biopsy,in which 1 or more lymph nodes are removed to determine whether or not cancer has spread to under the arm, or an axillary full lymph node dissection, in which most of the lymph nodes under the arm are removed because cancer has spread to that area.

Since the male breast is generally smaller than the female breast with less tissue below the nipple, cancer is more likely to be found in the nipple or skin.

Some men will only need a lumpectomy, in which only part of the breast is removed. Others may need a radical mastectomy, a more extensive operation that removes the entire breast, underarm lymph nodes, and the chest wall muscles under the breast.

Should you consider reconstructive surgery?

Some women choose breast reconstruction along with or after a mastectomy. This is also an option for men. If you are concerned about the appearance of your chest wall, talk to your doctor. There are other options as well – some men get a simple tattoo of a nipple to make them feel less self-conscious.

Here are some factors to consider if you’re thinking about reconstruction:

  • How self-conscious are you about your physical appearance?
  • Are you too embarrassed to swim or take off your shirt in public because of how your chest looks?
  • Does the imbalance between the two sides of your chest bother you?
  • How concerned are you about getting additional surgery?

How reconstruction is done for men

Because men have less breast tissue than women, the way the breast is reconstructed is also likely to be different. While women may have implants, this is often not appropriate for men.

If you’re interested in reconstruction, talk to the surgeon about what the surgery will involve and how it’s likely to affect your appearance.


Reviewed and updated: October 24, 2016

Reviewed by: Kathryn Ruddy, MD, MPH


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