What effects does it have?
- Upper body
What is it?
Surgery to remove the breast tissue, more suitable to smaller amounts of breast tissue.
It's also known as Keyhole mastectomy.
How long does it last?
The effects are permanent and cannot be reversed.
Not all breast tissue is removed in mastectomy, and it does not remove the risk of breast cancer.
In a mastectomy, the breast tissue is removed, and usually the nipples are made smaller and repositioned.
Typically, mastectomy is performed using the double incision mastectomy technique in the UK. Around 7% of people have little enough breast tissue and good skin elasticity for periareolar mastectomy to be recommended instead 1, which can result in less visible scarring 2. Other techniques are possible, such as buttonhole or inverted T (also known as T-anchor), but are much less common in the UK.
Unlike double incision mastectomy, periareolar mastectomy results in significantly less visible scarring, but may also cause over-reduction of the breast leaving a depression or dip in the chest. Repositioning of nipples cannot be carried out during periareolar mastectomy without leaving very conspicuous scarring, unlike double incision mastectomy 2.
Mastectomy usually requires an overnight stay in hospital 3. Mastectomy is a major surgery and has a significant recovery time. You should expect to spend around 4-6 weeks time recovering before you are ready to resume work or study. When you are discharged from hospital, your surgeon should provide you with a sick note to give to your employer.
Complications of mastectomy can include too much or too little tissue removed, “dog ears” (pouches of skin), and hypertrophic or keloid scars 1.
You can read more about mastectomy on the NHS Choices website.
You can also read more about chest surgeries on the Manchester Chest Wall Contouring Clinic website and the website of specialist surgeon Andrew Yelland.
Cost and funding
If you have a formal diagnosis, the NHS will usually provide funding for a mastectomy. Mastectomy for reasons of gender dysphoria requires a written letter of recommendation from a specialist gender clinician (such as NHS Gender Identity Clinic staff or private specialists) who have assessed you for suitability for surgery 3.
- 1 Yelland, Andrew (2017) “Chest Surgery and Breast Augmentation Surgery,” in Bouman, W. P. and Arcelus, J. (eds.), The Transgender Handbook: A Guide for Transgender People, Their Families and Professionals, Nova Science Publishers Inc, pp. 251–264.
- 2 Davies, Dai M and Stephenson, AJ (2007) “Breasts,” in Barrett, J. (ed.), Transsexual and other disorders of gender identity: A practical guide to management, Radcliffe Publishing, pp. 227–228.
- 3 Royal College of Psychiatrists (2013) “Good practice guidelines for the assessment and treatment of adults with gender dysphoria.” [online] Available from: www.rcpsych.ac.uk/usefulresources/publications/collegereports/cr/cr181.aspx
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Page last updated: September 2017