Most women who have breast cancer need some type of surgery—either a lumpectomy, which removes the tumor or a mastectomy, which removes the breast. And of course, surgery leaves scars.
I’ve found that women have different reactions to these scars. Some see them as proud reminders of the battle they’ve fought with cancer. But others see them as unwanted memories of a difficult time. They may view them as unattractive, and be self-conscious about their appearance.
Giving women the best odds of living free from cancer is my top priority. But I know that appearance can be important, too. That’s why I’m certified in a procedure called Hidden ScarTM. With it, I can perform lumpectomies and mastectomies in ways that make scarring nearly invisible.
When a lump is removed
For women with a smaller tumor that’s confined to one part of the breast, I can remove it, and a small section of healthy tissue that surrounds it, with a lumpectomy. I may also remove some nearby lymph nodes to check and see if the cancer has spread. Most of the breast and the nipple area stays as it is.
Typically, I would make an incision right over the tumor. But that can leave a visible scar. With the Hidden Scar procedure, I have three different locations I can consider for the incision that can make the scar nearly invisible:
When a breast is removed
Some women have large tumors, multiple tumors, or a higher-than-average risk of breast cancer. For them, a mastectomy might be a better option to reduce the risk of the cancer spreading or recurring. I have several options I can offer to women who need mastectomies—total mastectomy, skin-sparing mastectomy, and nipple-sparing mastectomy.
If the cancer doesn’t affect the nipple area and is non-invasive, or if a mastectomy is being done to reduce the risk of breast cancer, a Hidden Scar nipple-sparing mastectomy is an option. With this surgery, I remove the breast tissue but leave the skin and nipple intact. I make the incision in the natural skin fold beneath the breast, so the scar isn’t visible.
A plastic surgeon may get involved at this point. With modern techniques and implants, once the breast heals it looks much like it did before surgery.
The Hidden Scar procedure is an option for many women with breast cancer, depending on breast size and shape, and the size and location of the tumor.