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Periareolar mastectomy

What is periareolar mastectomy?

Surgery to remove the breast tissue, more suitable to smaller amounts of breast tissue.

It's also known as Keyhole mastectomy.

What does periareolar mastectomy do?

Who can have periareolar mastectomy?

  • You need to have had persistent dysphoria, but there is no specific time frame

  • You must have capacity to consent for this treatment

  • If you have significant medical conditions, these need to be “reasonably well-controlled”

  • You need to be at least 16 in Scotland, but at least 17 in other parts of the UK

  • You typically need a BMI of less than 40

How long does periareolar mastectomy last?

The effects are permanent and cannot be reversed.

What should I be aware of?

Complications of mastectomy can include too much or too little tissue removed, “dog ears” (pouches of skin), and hypertrophic or keloid scars 1, p.262.

Information for under 18s

Chest reconstruction surgeries on under 18s who have been on testosterone appear to have similar complications to those in young adults 2, but the research on this is limited.

Warning

Not all breast tissue is removed in mastectomy, and it does not remove the risk of breast cancer.

There is no recommended method for breast self-examination in the UK, but you should learn how your breast tissue feels and looks and see a doctor if you experience any unexpected changes.

How do I get mastectomy?

NGICNS maintains a list of NHS surgery providers providing various gender-related surgeries. At the moment, all of these surgeons are based in England, so you will have to travel if you live in another part of the UK.

Mastectomy usually requires an overnight stay in hospital 3, p.31. 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.

Are there other options?

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, p.261, which can result in less visible scarring 4, p.227. 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 4, p.227.

Where can I learn more?

You can read more about mastectomy on the NHS website.

You can also read more about chest surgeries in this booklet from the NHS Gender Dysphoria National Referral Support Service and on the Manchester Chest Wall Contouring Clinic website.

How do I get ready for surgery?

Doing some preparation in advance can help make sure everything goes smoothly during your hospital stay and recovery. To help you avoid forgetting to do or buy something we have created a Getting ready for gender surgeries page.

Where can I get support?

When you and your clinical team agree that you are ready for surgery on the NHS, the NHS Gender Dysphoria National Referral Support Services (GDNRSS) will process your referral to your chosen surgical provider. They have a Single Point of Access support line that you can call for information about your referral, the status of your chosen provider and practical information such as travel and parking, who can accompany you, what to take with you and where to report when you get there.

The phone number to call is 01522 85 77 99. The lines are open Monday to Friday from 9am until 5pm. You can find out more about this service in this booklet.

How much will it cost?

The cost of a mastectomy and chest reconstruction performed in the UK is currently around £6000-7000 (last updated October 2020).

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.

If you're receiving certain benefits, or are on a low income, you may be able to get help with the cost of travel for NHS treatment. Further information about help with travel costs can be found:

References

  1. 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. Link
  2. 2.
    Mahfouda, Simone, Moore, Julia K, Siafarikas, Aris, Hewitt, Timothy, et al. (2019) “Gender-affirming hormones and surgery in transgender children and adolescents.” The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 7(6), pp. 484–498. Link
  3. 3.
    Royal College of Psychiatrists (2013) “Good practice guidelines for the assessment and treatment of adults with gender dysphoria.” Link
  4. 4.
    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. Link

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