When someone is first diagnosed with breast cancer, their first concern is not often about their appearance. They might first consider prognosis. Can the surgeons get the cancer out? What are the treatment options? But if surgery is necessary, the cosmetic applications are a consideration. Your breast cancer team wants you to have the best results possible, including minimal scarring.
Breast Cancer Surgery
There is more than one way to remove tumors and cancerous cells surgically. Surgery options for the more extreme cases are the simple or total mastectomy, the radical mastectomy, and the double mastectomy. For the less severe cases are the lumpectomy or partial mastectomy, the nipple-sparing mastectomy, and the skin-sparing mastectomy. While these are still serious surgeries, these procedures can allow the patient to keep more of their natural breast shape with less dramatic scarring. While the type of procedure can certainly depend on how big the tumor or cancerous area is, treatment ultimately comes down to you, the patient, and your needs.
Breast Cancer Scars
The different variations of surgical procedures lead to different appearances, sizes, and locations for scars. With a total mastectomy, where all of the breast tissue, skin, and the nipple are removed, there will be a noticeable change in appearance. That area of the chest will be flat, and there will be a visibly large scar where the breast was.
With a skin-sparing mastectomy, the skin remains, but the nipple and breast tissue are removed. There is some room for reconstruction here under the skin, but there will still be a medium- to large-sized and prominent scar across the front of the breast.
A nipple-sparing mastectomy, however, leaves the skin and nipple and takes only the breast tissue and tumor. The scar traditionally branches off from the areola towards the armpit. It is still on the medium to large side of the scale and quite noticeable.
A lumpectomy only removes a portion of the breast tissue–that closes to the tumor–to ensure that none of the tumor is missed. This, too, can leave a large scar, which is quite visible depending on the location of the tumor and the surgeon’s approach.
All of these treatment options and their variations can be very effective with a skilled surgeon and oncology centers you are comfortable with. But they can leave a noticeable scar that many patients find a disheartening reminder:
- 72% of women did not realize how uncomfortable their breast cancer surgery scars would make them feel when undressed
- 72% of women are not displeased with the location of their scar
- 76% of women did not realize how uncomfortable their surgery scars would make them feel when someone else sees them undressed
- 82% of women have not worn a particular item of clothing because it reveals their breast cancer surgery scars
- 87% of women are self-conscious due to their scars
Hidden ScarTM Breast Cancer Surgery
In 2015, Invuity launched a new surgical approach to assist with just this issue. The Hidden ScarTM Breast Cancer surgery program was created to help surgeons and patients by offering less invasive methods of performing the surgery.
The Hidden Scar procedure allows for a smaller incision while still providing light in the surgical site, permitting the surgeons to treat the cancer and remove the tumor while still preserving as much of the breast’s natural shape as possible. More than that, this hidden scar process offers better cosmetic results by, as the name suggests, hiding the scars in the body’s natural folds.
Hidden Scar Mastectomy
For a nipple-sparing mastectomy, the Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery scar will dramatically decrease. There can be no evidence of any cancer within the nipple for Hidden Scar Surgery, and this surgery is best suited to patients who have non-invasive cancer.
The Hidden Scar mastectomy is performed by making an incision in the inframammary fold, or the natural fold under your breast. It will naturally be hidden by the fall your breast and its small size.
Hidden Scar Lumpectomy
A Hidden Scar Lumpectomy offers options for where the incision will go, depending on where the cancer is located in the breast.
- The Axilla, or under the armpit. The scar is usually hidden in a natural fold.
- Around the edges of the areola. Many patients prefer this option, as the scaring is minimal and hidden even when wearing a petite bikini top.
- The Inframammary fold – like the mastectomy.
Dr. Gorman and Hidden Scar
Dr. Valerie Gorman and her team have experience with the Hidden Scar approach. They have performed Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery and understand the differences and options that come from each approach to oncological surgery. Dr. Gorman knows that it is important to discuss all of your options when it comes to your health and will answer any questions you may have until you can come to a conclusion with which you are happy. Contact the Texas Breast Center in Waxahachie to make an appointment and have any questions answered.