MUSC Advanced Breast Reconstruction program

Unilateral and Bilateral Mastectomy

A unilateral mastectomy involves the removal of one breast, while a bilateral mastectomy involves both breasts. If you have cancer in one breast, you may decide to have the other breast removed at the same time as a cancer prevention measure (prophylactic mastectomy).

If you are having a bilateral mastectomy, you also can undergo reconstruction of both breasts at the same time with the same reconstructive technique, whether you use implants or your own natural tissue. Or you may preserve your natural, cancer-free breast and undergo a symmetry procedure – for example, a breast reduction or breast lift – to ensure that your natural breast looks similar to your newly reconstructed breast.

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