Breast surgery

Most people with breast cancer have surgery as part of their treatment. At Geisinger, our skilled breast surgeons perform every type of breast surgery, including the latest minimally invasive and reconstructive surgeries.

The primary goal of surgery is to remove all the cancer from the breast. Surgery is also used to determine the stage of the disease and whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes, the small glands that make up part of the immune system.

What you should know about breast surgery

  • The kind of surgery you will have depends on the cancer’s stage and type, your family history, and other factors. Our surgeries include:
    • Breast conserving surgery (BCS): Your surgeon removes the section of the breast that contains the cancer, as well as some surrounding tissues. BCS is also called partial mastectomy.
    • Total mastectomy: Surgeons remove the entire breast. Frequently, much of the skin overlying the breast can be preserved. For some very high risk women, both breasts are removed (bi-lateral or double mastectomy) as a preventative measure. It may be possible to preserve the nipples in these situations.
    • Lymph node biopsy: Your lymph nodes are often the first place cancer cells are likely to spread. A core biopsy removes a sample of tissue from your lymph node to examine under a microscope to determine if the cancer has spread. A sentinel lymph node procedure accurately removes just those lymph nodes that have the highest likelihood of containing cancer. This procedure minimizes the risk of arm swelling (lymphedema), which can result from removing lymph nodes under the arm.
    • Reconstructive surgery: Reconstructive surgery rebuilds the shape and look of your breast after a mastectomy. It may be done during your treatment or afterward and can be done with implants or your own tissue.
  • Although a double mastectomy nearly eliminates the risk of developing a new breast cancer, it does not necessarily improve outcomes. It depends on a variety of factors.

Why choose Geisinger for your breast surgery?

  • Highly experienced breast surgeons: Our comprehensive breast health team includes two highly skilled and compassionate female breast surgeons. They completed additional, specialized training (fellowships) and passed rigorous exams (board certification).
  • Breast conservation and reconstructive surgery options: Our specialists have extensive experience performing all types of mastectomies and reconstructive surgeries:
    • Nipple-sparing mastectomy
    • Skin-sparing mastectomy
    • Surgery with immediate reconstruction
    • Reconstructive surgery using implants or your own tissue
  • Lymphedema evaluation and management: Lymphedema is a buildup of fluid that leads to swelling in the arms. It can result from removing lymph nodes under the arm and can be aggravated by radiation treatment. At Geisinger, we closely monitor fluid buildup before and after surgery to monitor for any swelling.


Also see breast cancer treatment

Treats these conditions

Our highly experienced breast surgeons perform all forms of breast surgery, to treat all types of breast disease.

Specialties and institutes

We're here to help