You are here: Home Managing Your ... Mastectomy 101 Summary
Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

Mastectomy 101


Next »


A mastectomy is a surgical procedure which involves removing all of the breast tissue, sometimes along with other nearby tissues.  

There are several types of mastectomy. As stated by the American Cancer Society, they are:

  • Simple or total mastectomy: In this surgery the entire breast is removed, but not the lymph nodes under the arm or the muscle tissue beneath the breast. Sometimes both breasts are removed, especially when mastectomy is done to try to prevent cancer. If a hospital stay is needed, most women can go home the next day. For some women who are planning on having reconstruction right away, a skin-sparing mastectomy can be done. For this, most of the skin over the breast (other than the nipple and areola) is left intact. This can work as well as a simple mastectomy. The amount of breast tissue removed is the same as with a simple mastectomy. Although this approach has not been used for as long as the more standard type of mastectomy, many women prefer it because there is less scar tissue and the reconstructed breast seems more natural.
  • Modified radical mastectomy: This operation involves removing the entire breast and some of the lymph nodes under the arm. This is the most common surgery for women with breast cancer who are having the whole breast removed.
  • Radical mastectomy: This is a major operation where the surgeon removes the entire breast, underarm (axillary) lymph nodes, and the chest wall muscles under the breast. This surgery was once very common, but it is rarely done now because modified radical mastectomy has proven to work just as well. But this operation may still be done for large tumors that are growing into the muscles under the breast.

A mastectomy is usually done in a hospital, with a stay of a few days.

Immediately after the surgery, you will have a bandage over your breast area and there may be one or more tubes in your breast or underarm area. If a drain is left in when you go home, this does NOT indicate a problem. (To learn more, see: What To Expect After A Mastectomy)

Before leaving the hospital, find out what you can and cannot do, and for how long. Preferably get the instructions in writing. For additional questions to ask, click here.

If mastectomy is covered by your health insurance, the odds are that reconstruction is also covered. For information, click here. If not, see Uninsured for tips about paying for reconstruction.


  • Check the hospital bill before you leave - or soon after you get home. A high percentage of hospital bills have mistakes - usually in the hospital's favor. (Click here to learn how to check a hospital bill).
  • Hospital bills are negotiable. To learn how to negotiate the amount owed to a hospital bill, click here.

Please share how this information is useful to you. 0 Comments


Post a Comment Have something to add to this topic? Contact Us.

Characters remaining:

  • Allowed markup: <a> <i> <b> <em> <u> <s> <strong> <code> <pre> <p>
    All other tags will be stripped.