The review of this procedure is currently in progress and will be published by end of 2019

Descriptions of major, minor and cosmetic breast surgery

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Major breast surgery


  • Total or simple - the whole breast, including the nipple and areola, is removed, but not the axillary lymph nodes
  • Partial or segmental - removal of a portion of the breast tissue and a surrounding area of normal breast tissue (usually removes less tissue than a quandrantectomy but more than a lumpectomy or wide excision)
  • Radical - removal of the breast tissue, skin, nipple, areola, underlying chest wall muscles (pectorals) and varying numbers of axillary lymph nodes
  • Modified radical – removal of the whole breast, nipple/areolar region, and most of the axillary lymph nodes, but not the chest wall muscles
  • Unilateral – on one side only

Quadrantectomy - removes a quarter of the breast, including the skin and breast fascia

Axillary lymph node dissection (or resection or clearance), or axillary lymphadenectomy - surgical removal of the axillary lymph nodes

Breast reconstruction:

  • Transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous (TRAM) flap breast reconstruction - uses muscle, skin, and fat from the patient’s abdominal wall to reconstruct the breast
  • Latissimus dorsi breast reconstruction - uses skin and muscle from the patient’s back  


Minor breast surgery

Lumpectomy, breast lump excision, breast biopsy, breast-conserving therapy, wide local excision, breast tumour resection or breast surgery resection - removal of the breast cancer tumor and a surrounding area of normal breast tissue

Radioisotope-guided (sentinel) lymph node biopsy or sentinel node procedure – involves the removal of only 1–3 sentinel lymph nodes (the first nodes in the lymphatic chain). A radioactive tracer and/or blue dye is injected into an area of the tumor and is taken up by the sentinel nodes, thus enabling the surgeon to identify the lymph node most likely to be cancerous if the disease has spread from its original source

Cosmetic breast surgery

Reduction mammoplasty - breast reduction surgery

Breast augmentation - breast enlargement operation that usually involves placing an artificial implant either under the breast tissue, or under the chest muscle behind the breast.