Breast Surgery

Advanced Surgical Techniques to Treat Breast Conditions

Loyola Medicine offers state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment techniques, providing our patients with the most advanced breast surgery options. All of Loyola’s breast surgeons are fellowship-trained and recognized for clinical excellence, innovative therapeutic methods and skilled use of the latest technology. Our experienced nursing team provides care in a compassionate environment where we want you to feel comfortable asking any questions you may have about your condition or treatment. 

Prior to surgery, Loyola’s breast surgeons and surgical oncologists use advanced breast imaging to detect masses, lesions, cysts and tumors within your breast. Imaging is also used to develop a precise treatment plan for benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous) breast conditions, as well as cosmetic surgeries. 

The breast surgery and surgical oncology team at Loyola offers a wide range of complex and simple breast surgery techniques, including:

  • Breast augmentation — Loyola’s breast surgeons are skilled in performing breast surgery to change the size or shape of the breasts through breast reduction, breast lift and implant revision surgeries.
     
  • Breast reconstruction — For women who have had a mastectomy or lumpectomy, Loyola’s breast surgeons provide surgical techniques to rebuild the breast after surgery. This surgery can take place at the same time as cancer-removing surgery or at a later time. 
     
  • Cryotherapy — Your doctor may use extreme cold to freeze and kill cancerous cells in the breast. This technique may also be called cryosurgery. 
     
  • Lumpectomy — Removal of a cancerous tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissue. This is also called breast-conserving surgery (BCS) or partial mastectomy. 
     
  • Lymph node removal —  A preventive measure used during a lumpectomy or mastectomy when a cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm (axillary lymph nodes).
     
  • Mastectomy — For patients with breast cancer, mastectomy may be used to remove all breast tissue. A double mastectomy is the removal of all tissues of both breasts. 
     
  • Perforator flap breast reconstruction — Loyola’s breast surgeons offer this newer breast reconstruction technique, in which your surgeon uses fatty tissue from your lower abdomen to rebuild your breast.  Also called tissue flap surgery. 
     
  • Prophylactic mastectomy — For patients with a high risk of developing breast cancer due to genetic factors or family history, preventive removal of one or both breasts may be performed. 

Why Choose Loyola for Breast Surgery?

Loyola provides truly integrated clinical care for benign and malignant breast conditions. as well as cosmetic breast surgery. Our multidisciplinary program brings together specialists in medical oncology, surgical oncology, radiation therapy, mammography, cytology and plastic and reconstructive surgery to provide women with the most advanced surgical care in a compassionate environment. 

Before and after surgery, patients benefit from Loyola’s system of support services, including help from social workers, chaplains, support group leaders and consultants in the Coleman Foundation Image Renewal Center.

As part of an academic medical center, Loyola’s expert clinicians perform and teach the latest surgical techniques and medical treatments in numerous locations across the Chicago area. In addition, our nurses have earned Magnet status, which means they have been recognized for delivering the highest level of care.

What Conditions are Treated with Breast Surgery?

Loyola’s breast surgery and surgical oncology team is comprehensive and compassionate in the treatment of patients with breast conditions and cosmetic surgery needs. Our team is versed in the full spectrum of benign (noncancerous) and malignant (cancerous) breast conditions, including:

  • Ductal carcinoma — In patients with ductal carcinoma, cancer cells are present in a milk duct in the breast and is usually found during a mammogram. This type of breast cancer requires treatment often including breast-conserving surgery and radiation to prevent the cancer from spreading.
     
  • Fibroadenomas — Larger fibroadenomas feel like marbles, with distinct edges. Smaller ones are more difficult to detect. Fibroadenomas are made up of both glandular and connective tissue. Your doctor may recommend surgical removal or regular monitoring. Some may stop growing or shrink without intervention. 
     
  • Fibrosis and simple cysts — Fibrosis is the formation of scar like material; cysts are fluid-filled sacs within the breasts. Changes in breast tissue are often triggered by the rise and fall of hormones in a woman’s normal cycle and usually noticed in both breasts. Most breast lumps are caused by a combination of fibrosis and cysts, which may cause tenderness, swelling, breast pain and sometimes nipple discharge. These benign conditions do not lead to an increased chance of breast cancer.
     
  • Gynecomastia — This condition affects boys and men, and is marked by the swelling of breast tissue caused by an imbalance of estrogen and testosterone. This may cause pain and embarrassment, and can be treated with medication or surgery. 
     
  • Hyperplasia — Hyperplasia usually occurs in the ducts or lobules, and  is caused by an overgrowth of cells. It doesn’t usually form a lump, but can be seen in imaging tests. When these cells are distorted in shape, it is called atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH). Patients with ADH are at a greater risk for breast cancer and should undergo regular screening. 
     
  • Inflammatory breast cancer — Patients with inflammatory breast cancer often notice that one or both breasts are red, swollen and tender. This cancer type develops quickly and needs rapid medical attention to distinguish this form of cancer from a case of mastitis (breast infection). 
     
  • Intraductal papilloma — These wart like growths, located in the breast ducts, are usually found close to the nipple. They may be painful and can cause a clear or bloody discharge from the nipple. Papillomas can form in clusters and occur in both breasts at the same time. 
     
  • Lipomas — These benign fatty tumors can be found in the breast and often grow slowly. Treatment is not usually required; but if lipomas are growing, painful or bothersome, you may wish to have them removed. 
     
  • Lobular carcinoma — In patients with lobular carcinoma, cancer cells are present in the milk-producing glands (lobules) of the breast. Rather than a lump, patients with this type of breast cancer often notice a thickening or fullness in one part of the breast. 
     
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ — Patients with this condition have cancer like cells in the lobules (milk-producing glands) that do not affect surrounding tissue. Patients with this condition have a greater chance of developing breast cancer and should have regular mammograms.
     
  • Mammary duct ectasia — This condition occurs when the duct walls thicken and thus block the duct, possibly leading to fluid buildup. It can cause a painful lump, distort the nipple and result in a discharge. This condition usually occurs in women over 50 and does not increase the risk for breast cancer.
     
  • Metastatic breast cancer — In patients with metastatic breast cancer, cancer cells have spread from the breast to other organs in the body. 
     
  • Paget’s disease of the nipple — In patients with this rare form of breast cancer, cancer cells are present in or around the nipple. The cancer then spreads to the areola, causing scaly, red, itchy and irritated skin. 
     
  • Phyllodes tumors — These hard, painless lumps affect both glandular and connective tissue and may be benign, malignant or borderline. They usually become noticeable and may cause the skin to become inflamed. These tumors are surgically removed. 
     
  • Radial scars (complex sclerosing lesions) — This is an area of hardened breast tissue that usually does not cause symptoms. These are usually found on mammograms and can look like breast cancer in a mammogram image. A biopsy is usually used to provide a definitive diagnosis. 
     
  • Sclerosing adenosis — This condition may be found on a mammogram and is marked by the formation of extra tissue within the breast, which may be painful. Multiple small, firm, tender lumps, fibrous tissue and small cysts may form in the breast. Pain may recur linked to the menstrual cycle. 

Cosmetic breast surgery is used to change the size or appearance of breasts, and is requested by patients who are concerned that their breasts are too small or too large, asymmetric, misshapen or sagging. Learn more about Loyola’s plastic surgery and cosmetic services.

What to Expect with Breast Surgery

Loyola’s breast surgeons and surgical oncologists are experienced in many advanced breast surgery techniques and will work with you to develop a surgical plan that provides the best possible outcome. Our breast surgeons are fellowship-trained and will provide expert care with compassion. 

Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan based on your unique needs. In all cases, your Loyola healthcare team will discuss your condition and treatment options with you prior to any surgery. We want you to feel comfortable bringing your questions and concerns to us and will address them prior to treatment. 

Some breast surgeries, such as a lumpectomy and some biopsies, are performed in an outpatient setting. These take a short time to perform and do not require an overnight hospital stay. You may receive a general anesthesia, in which you are asleep during the procedure, or a local anesthesia—in which you are awake but your breast is numbed, and you will be unable to feel pain during the surgery. You’ll be ready to resume your normal activities two weeks after surgery. Most women need radiation therapy after a lumpectomy.

Patients having a mastectomy, breast reconstruction or a cosmetic breast augmentation surgery can expect to be given general anesthesia and will be asleep during the entire surgery. These procedures generally take two or three hours, and you can expect to stay in the hospital for a day or two. Patients who have a mastectomy usually are able to return to their regular activities four weeks after surgery. Patients who have a breast augmentation often can return to work within a week.

Patients who are having a treatment for cancer will likely also have chemotherapy or radiation treatments during or after their breast surgery. Sometimes, reconstructive surgery is performed in the same surgery as a mastectomy.

Loyola offers psychological support to patients who are undergoing a mastectomy or lumpectomy. The Coleman Foundation Image Renewal Center, located inside the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, helps patients revitalize their self image in a comfortable and relaxing setting. The center offers breast prosthesis fitting, massage therapy, nail and hair care and many other services. 

What are the Risks of Breast Surgery?

Breast surgery can be lifesaving for patients with breast cancer. For patients with benign conditions, breast surgery can relieve pain and discomfort, as well as reduce the risk for breast surgery in some cases. Cosmetic breast surgery, which often accompanies surgery for breast cancer, offers patients improved quality of life and often a more positive self-image. 

Your Loyola surgical team will discuss the risks and benefits of breast surgery with you prior to the procedure. Risks may include:

  • Allergic reactions to anesthesia
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Capsular contracture
  • Death
  • Heart attack
  • Infection
  • Lymphedema (arm swelling)
  • Nerve damage
  • Problems with wound healing, including hematoma
  • Seroma (fluid build-up)
  • Stroke
  • Vein thrombosis​

After a breast cancer surgery or a surgery combined with other treatments, there is a chance that breast cancer could return. Your clinical team will provide recommendations for lowering your risk of a recurrence.

Some patients who have a mastectomy feel pain or tingling that doesn’t go away over time. The condition, sometimes called post-mastectomy pain syndrome (PMPS), is more common if lymph nodes were removed during the surgery. Your clinical team will help you manage this condition.

Patients who have breast augmentation surgery may notice changes in sensation in the nipple or breast. A revision surgery is sometimes needed to manage problems, such as an implant rupture.