Elective Mastectomies

An elective mastectomy, also known as a prophylactic mastectomy, is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of one or both breasts to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. This option is available to women who have a high risk of developing the disease due to genetic factors, family history, or previous breast biopsies showing abnormal cells.

The decision to undergo an elective mastectomy is a personal and complex one, and may benefit from the guidance of a skilled plastic surgeon who can provide comprehensive care and support throughout the process. Michael A. Howard, MD is committed to helping patients make informed decisions about their breast health and appearance.

Dr. Howard is a board-certified plastic surgeon at Northwestern Medicine with the experience and expertise, to guide you through the elective mastectomy process. He offers patients a comprehensive approach to ensure the most beneficial results and patient satisfaction. If you are considering elective mastectomy, do not hesitate to contact us at (224) 271-4250 or fill out our online form to schedule your consultation with Dr. Howard.

Before and After Photos

Breast Cancer Risk Factors and Genetics

Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer among women in the United States. (1) While its exact cause is not known, there are several risk factors that can increase a woman’s likelihood of developing the disease. These risk factors include:

  • Age 
  • Family history of breast cancer 
  • Genetic mutations (BRCA 1 and BRCA 2
  • Personal history of breast cancer 
  • Exposure to radiation therapy 
  • Lifestyle factors (e.g. alcohol consumption, physical inactivity)

For women with a family history of breast cancer, genetic testing can help identify if they carry the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation. Women who test positive for these mutations have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than the general population. In fact, studies suggest that women with BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutations have an approximate 70% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. (2)

Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer

BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 are genes that produce proteins that help prevent the growth of cancer cells. However, mutations in these genes can actually increase your risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. And if you have the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation, your risk of developing breast cancer is significantly higher than that of the general population. Elective mastectomy can reduce this risk considerably, between 85-100%, making it a viable option for many patients. (3)

We understand the difficult decision that many women face when considering preventive measures to reduce their risk of breast cancer. Dr. Michael Howard is a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in performing elective mastectomies for women who carry a BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation or have other high-risk factors for developing breast cancer.

Mastectomy for Peace of Mind

At Michael Howard Plastic Surgery, we understand the importance of providing our patients with compassionate care and personalized attention. We are committed to helping you make informed decisions about your health and well-being. Throughout the entire process, Dr. Howard and his team provide compassionate care and support, ensuring that patients feel comfortable and confident in their decision. 

If you’re considering elective mastectomy, contact us at (224) 271-4250 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Howard. Our experienced team is here to support you throughout your journey toward optimal health and wellness.

Benefits of Elective Mastectomy

  • Reduced Risk of Breast Cancer: For women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer due to family history or genetic factors, elective mastectomy can significantly reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Improved Quality of Life: Women who choose to undergo elective mastectomy often experience improved quality of life, reduced anxiety, and a sense of empowerment over their health outcomes.
  • Restored Confidence: Dr. Howard’s approach to elective mastectomy emphasizes natural-looking results that restore confidence and self-esteem for patients who may have been struggling with body image issues related to breast size or shape.
  • Personalized Treatment Plan: Dr. Howard understands that every patient is unique and requires a personalized treatment plan tailored to their individual needs and concerns. He works closely with patients to develop a treatment plan that addresses their specific goals and expectations.
  • Expert Care: Dr. Howard is a highly-skilled plastic surgeon with years of experience in performing elective mastectomies. Patients can trust that they are in good hands and will receive expert care throughout the entire process.
  • Minimal Scarring: Dr. Howard uses advanced surgical techniques to minimize scarring and ensure that any scars are concealed as much as possible.

If you are considering elective mastectomy, contact our office in Lake Forest, Illinois today to schedule a consultation and learn more about the benefits of this life-changing procedure.

Breast Reconstruction: Restoring Confidence

After an elective mastectomy, many women choose to undergo breast reconstruction surgery. Breast reconstruction can help restore a woman’s sense of femininity and confidence. The surgery can often be performed at the same time as an elective mastectomy, allowing patients to wake up with a new breast shape and size. Dr. Howard uses the advanced DIEP Flap reconstruction technique to create natural-looking results that complement each patient’s unique body type and preferences.

Personal Consultation

Dr. Howard understands that deciding to undergo an elective mastectomy is an important decision. That’s why he offers a personalized consultation to discuss the procedure at length.

During your consultation, he will take the time to get to know you, listen to your concerns, and answer any questions you may have about the procedure. He will also review your medical history and perform a breast examination to determine if you are a good candidate for the surgery.

The Procedure

An elective mastectomy involves removing all breast tissue from one or both breasts.

During the procedure, Dr. Howard will also perform breast reconstruction to restore the appearance of your breasts. Reconstruction can be done immediately after the mastectomy or at a later time, depending on your preferences and medical needs.

DIEP Flap Reconstruction

Dr. Michael Howard specializes in DIEP flap reconstruction and offers both immediate and delayed reconstruction options for his patients.

Immediate Reconstruction

Immediate reconstruction is performed at the same time as a mastectomy, allowing patients to wake up from their surgery with newly reconstructed breasts. The DIEP flap procedure involves taking skin, fat, and blood vessels from the lower abdomen and using them to reconstruct the breast(s). This creates a natural-looking breast with soft tissue that closely resembles the breast’s original appearance.

Delayed Reconstruction

Delayed reconstruction is performed after mastectomy and any necessary radiation therapy. This option allows women to take time to heal after their mastectomy before undergoing reconstruction surgery. Dr. Howard will evaluate each patient individually and determine if they are a candidate for delayed reconstruction.

The DIEP flap technique has several advantages over other types of breast reconstruction surgery. It provides a more natural-looking breast, and because the tissue is taken from the patient’s own body, there is a lower risk of infection or rejection of the implant.

Learn more about DIEP Flap recovery.

The Road to Recovery

After an elective mastectomy, the recovery process is an important aspect of the healing journey. Dr. Howard understands that recovery can be challenging and is dedicated to providing a comprehensive aftercare plan to ensure a smooth and successful recovery. Following your procedure, you will be given specific instructions on how to care for yourself during the healing period. 

Cost of an Elective Mastectomy in Chicago

The cost of your procedure will vary depending on your personal circumstances. Dr. Howard and his team are committed to providing personalized care throughout the entire process. We understand that each patient’s journey is unique, and we work closely with you to ensure that your recovery is as comfortable as possible. Contact our office in Lake Forest, Chicago, or Glenview at (224) 271-4250 to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you achieve your goals.


Who can get an elective mastectomy?

This type of surgery is recommended for women who have a high risk of developing breast cancer, often due to a family history of the disease or genetic mutations like BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Why would someone choose to undergo an elective mastectomy?

Women who undergo elective mastectomies do so to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. For some women with a strong family history of breast cancer or genetic mutations, this surgery can be a proactive measure to prevent the disease from ever developing. Additionally, some women who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast may choose to have an elective mastectomy on the other breast as a preventative measure.

Is elective mastectomy covered by insurance?

In many cases, insurance will cover the cost of an elective mastectomy for women who are considered high risk for developing breast cancer. However, it’s important to check with your individual insurance provider to determine coverage and any out-of-pocket costs that may apply.

Can breast reconstruction be performed along with an elective mastectomy?

Yes, breast reconstruction can be performed at the same time as an elective mastectomy. This can often provide better cosmetic results and reduce the number of surgeries required. Your plastic surgeon can discuss various options for breast reconstruction, including implant-based reconstruction or using tissue from other parts of the body.


  1. CDC. CDC – Breast Cancer Statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/statistics/index.htm
  2. Kuchenbaecker KB, Hopper JL, Barnes DR, et al. Risks of Breast, Ovarian, and Contralateral Breast Cancer for BRCA1 and BRCA2 Mutation Carriers. JAMA. 2017;317(23):2402. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2017.7112 
  3. Alaofi RK, Nassif MO, Al-Hajeili MR. Prophylactic mastectomy for the prevention of breast cancer: Review of the literature. Avicenna journal of medicine. 2018;8(3):67-77. doi:https://doi.org/10.4103/ajm.AJM_21_18 
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