Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Preventive Double Mastectomy: FAQ

4. How long is the recovery time?

About a month, on average, Tuttle says.

5. Can I start breast reconstruction at the same time?

Yes. Many women do that. The surgeries take about 5-6 hours when done together, Tuttle says.

6. What are the side effects?

Like any surgery, there is risk. You may need more operations if you get an infection or if the tissue doesn't heal, Tuttle says.

Some women may have emotional side effects linked to their body image. For others, the peace of mind they get from having the surgery outweighs changes in their body.

It comes down to how you feel about risk, Hudis says.

Brenda Nelson, of Cloquet, Minn., had a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries in early 2013. Nelson has the BRCA1 gene mutation, her mother has had ovarian cancer, and she also has a family history of breast cancer.

“I’m very happy with my decision. It seemed inevitable that I would get cancer, and now my odds are much better,” Nelson says. Still, she respects other women's choices.

“[It was] such a personal decision. I wouldn’t tell anyone to or not to."

7. Are there women who should not get this surgery for medical reasons?

Yes. The surgery isn't recommended if you have other medical problems such as severe heart disease, lung disease, or kidney problems, Tuttle says.

8. Does insurance cover preventive mastectomy?

It varies from state to state. Federal law doesn't require it. 

Insurance companies usually pay for the surgery if your doctor says it's needed, and for breast reconstruction, too.

Talk with your insurance company and your doctor so you know what to expect.

1 | 2
Reviewed on September 05, 2013

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow