Is America Burning - a Forum To Discuss Issues

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Skyline - Houston, Texas

Sunday, July 22, 2007

"Drive-Thru Mastectomies"

Granny has published a number of excellent posts this past week concerning important domestic issues. Please scroll down and check out all of them.

I especially call your attention to her post immediately below this one, "This is Outrageous" and beg you to follow through on it. This issue is important for every female in America. When it was publicized in the past the media dubbed it "drive-thru mastectomies". Breast cancer and the treatment for it is a vital issue for all women ( and believe it or not, sometimes young girls and even a few males are affected. Cancer, even breast cancer, is no respecter of age or gender).

Breast amputation is no minor surgery; it is a major procedure and is also emotionally and psychologically devastating for the woman and her husband or life companion. It is too serious to be treated as no more than excising an ingrown toenail and insurance companies should not be permitted to address it as such.

This post is somewhat graphic.

Ladies, do you want to be sent home the same day after having this surgery; can you learn to care for your surgical wound after a few minutes instruction from a nurse while groggy and emotionally shocked? Gentlemen, do you want a woman in your life to be treated so callously by insurance companies?

These illustrations present the more drastic form of mastectomies. There are a number of procedures, depending on the extent of the cancer and other factors, and point up the importance of early detection so that less invasive surgery may be employed.

Radical Mastectomy - Medical Illustration

Radical Mastectomy
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Surgical Procedure

General anesthesia, which renders the patient unconscious, is administered for all types of mastectomy. The surgeon makes a curved cut, called an elliptical incision, into the skin. The incision includes the nipple, areola, and the biopsy scar.

The tumor and all of the breast tissue, including the nipple and areola, are removed. The initial incision may extend to the armpit to allow for removal of the lymph nodes. If a radical mastectomy is being performed, the surgeon also removes the muscles beneath the breast. At the end of the operation, one or two drains are inserted to drain excess fluid that may collect under the skin. (end excerpt)

Illustrations below demonstrate various mastectomy procedures, depending upon how much lymphatic system is affected by cancer. Blue markings indicate the extent of surgical removal.

it has become the most common type procedure for removing the entire breast.
Radical MastectomyModified Radical Mastectomy
Radical Mastectomy.Modified Radical Mastectomy.
Simple MastectomyPartial Mastectomy
Simple (total) Mastectomy.Partial Mastectomy(least invasive)Lumpectomy)

Pink areas indicate extent of surgical removal depending on amount of lymphatic involvement.

Simple Mastectomy
Modified radical mastectomy
Radical mastectomy

Excerpt: Health a to z:


In the past, women often stayed in the hospital at least several days. Now many patients go home the same day or within a day or two after their mastectomies. Visits from home care nurses can sometimes be arranged, but patients need to learn how to care for themselves before discharge from the hospital. Patients may need to learn to change bandages and/or care for the incision. The surgical drains must be attended to properly; this includes emptying the drain, measuring fluid output, moving clots through the drain, and identifying problems that need attention from the doctor or nurse. If the drain becomes blocked, fluid or blood may collect at the surgical site. Left untreated, this accumulation may cause infection and/or delayed wound healing.

Every effort is made to leave as much healthy skin intact as possible, but sometimes a substantial amount of skin is removed, resulting in a large, possibly disfiguring scar, and making breast reconstruction difficult.

A mastectomy usually takes 2 to 3 hours. A radical mastectomy may take longer because the surgery is more complex.


Emotional care is another important aspect of recovery from a mastectomy. A mastectomy patient may feel a range of emotions including depression, negative self-image, grief, fear and anxiety about possible recurrence of the cancer, anger, or guilt. Patients are advised to seek counseling and/or support groups and to express their emotions to others, whether family, friends, or therapists. Assistance in dealing with the psychological effects of the breast cancer diagnosis, as well as the surgery, can be invaluable for women.

Measures to prevent injury or infection to the affected arm should be taken, especially if axillary lymph nodes were removed. There are a number of specific instructions directed toward avoiding pressure or constriction of the arm. Extra care must be exercised to avoid injury, to treat it properly if it occurs, and to seek medical attention promptly when appropriate.


Please note that these illustrations demonstrate the more radical procedures for invasive breast cancer. Early detection BEFORE cancer has spread is of great importance. Do NOT allow fear to cause you to procrastinate. A lumpectomy allows only a small wedge of tissue to be removed, saving the breast.


Reconstructive Surgery Post-Mastectomy

Photos of post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. This is possible if sufficient skin can be preserved, if your insurance company will pay for it or if you can pay for it yourself. It is an option to discuss with your surgeon and insurance provider. Since the nipple is removed during surgery, a new nipple can be constructed for appearance sake but will lack the sensations of the natural nipple.If the surviving breast needs a bit of cosmetic surgery to make the breasts symmetrical, it can be done. Note that nipples and areolae appear quite natural.

These are real photos of real women who have had reconstruction surgery, before and after, demonstrating the natural appearance of the breasts. Reconstructive surgery helps women overcome some of the devastating psychological effects of having a mastectomy. For complete gallery of examples, click on to:

Example of Reconstructive Surgery

62 year old post right mastectomy

Procedure: GAP flap reconstruction right breast and left breast lift/augmentation for symmetry

Obvious suture lines fade in time.Her left breast has been lifted and augmented so that both breasts have natural symmetrical appearance.

The insurance companies care only about the bottom line, the profit line. By reducing the length of patient hospital stays, the less they have to pay out and therefore the more profit. No one should have to endure the sort of treatment the insurance companies want to inflict on patients . Please follow through with the recommendations in Granny's post. Raise hell, contact your reps.



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