I watched my mom battle breast cancer and win. But the scars from her mastectomy took a real toll on her self-esteem. Now I’m facing surgery. Do I have better options than my mom had?
Having a lumpectomy or mastectomy is literally life-saving for women with breast cancer. But, many find living with their scars to be a challenge. That’s all changing thanks to a new, advance procedure available in the Kansas City area. Hidden ScarTM breast cancer surgeries are now being performed at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, Centerpoint Medical Center and Menorah Medical Center.
Like the name suggests, Hidden Scar surgeries are breast surgeries completed with little to no visible scarring – at least nothing you could see without looking for it. That’s because incisions are made in places not usually on display, such as the inframammary fold (the natural crease under your breast).
If you are not aware of this surgical option, you are not alone. It’s an advanced technique that, until now, was not offered in the Kansas City area. Local Sarah Cannon HCA Midwest Health surgeon Dr. Anne Kobbermann is the only surgeon in the area trained to perform Hidden Scar surgeries.
“This is really a game-changer for many patients,” said Dr. Kobbermann. “If you are facing a breast surgery to prevent or treat breast cancer you really owe it to yourself to see if you are a candidate for this innovative approach.”
Those interested in scheduling a Hidden Scar consultation can call (816) 751-3000.
There are two Hidden Scar breast cancer surgeries.
Hidden Scar Nipple Sparing Mastectomy
Traditional nipple sparing surgery removes all the breast tissue while preserving the skin, nipple and areola. The incision is commonly performed across the center of the breast, making it visible to patients daily and to others during intimate moments, when wearing a bathing suit or other times.
The Hidden Scar procedure is an advanced form of this surgery where the incision is made through the inframammary fold, which is the natural crease beneath the breast. By taking this route, the scar is well hidden – usually only visible if the woman actually lifted her breast up to show it.
This can ease the emotional impact of breast cancer surgery since women no longer have visible reminders of their surgery and can have a more natural breast reconstruction.
There is NO higher risk of your breast cancer recurring if you have the Hidden Scar surgery versus other techniques.
You may qualify for Hidden Scar Nipple Sparing Mastectomy if one or more of the following applies:
- You are seeking a mastectomy to prevent cancer because of a strong family history (BRCA gene)
- You have non-invasive breast cancer (DCIS)
- Your tumor is small and doesn’t lie directly behind the nipple.
- You have small to medium sized breasts (cup sizes A to C) without significant breast sagging.
Hidden Scar Breast Conserving Surgery
Breast conserving surgery is sometimes referred to as a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy. In the traditional procedure, the breast tumor is removed along with the surrounding tissue (called a margin) but the rest of the breast tissue remains, along with the nipple and areola. Plastic surgery techniques are used to fill the empty space created when the tumor is removed and to leave a more natural breast shape.
With a Hidden Scar breast conserving surgery, the incision is hidden in one of three places to make it less visible:
- The armpit (axilla)
- Along the border of your areola
- The natural fold underneath your breast (inframammary fold)
You may be a candidate for Hidden Scar Breast Sparing Surgery if
- the size of the tumor will allow for it to be completely removed (along with the margin).
- the size of the cancer is small relative to your breast size
- the cancer is in only one specific area of the breast.
Again, there is no difference in the risk of cancer recurrence between a traditional lumpectomy and a Hidden Scar lumpectomy. However, nearly all lumpectomy patients need to have radiation treatments following surgery to inhibit the growth of future cancers. Patients are encouraged to discuss their radiation treatment options before selecting the type of breast surgery so they can better understand their entire treatment picture.
“Many patients choose the mastectomy from the start to avoid having to go through radiation treatment,” said Dr. Kobbermann. “Which they are usually able to do with full breast removal. Other patients are concerned about the re-operation rate for lumpectomy.”
Between 10 and 40 percent of lumpectomies result in the pathology lab finding cancer at the edge of the removed tissue – which means the cancer cells may still be left in the breast. If that happens, the patient usually undergoes a second surgery to remove additional breast tissue.
Making Informed Decisions
HCA Midwest Health has partnered with the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute to ensure that Kansas City patients have access to the best cancer treatments and support services. If you need help finding a doctor, use our online physician finder or call (816) 751-3000—our free physician referral line.
We know that understanding your options and navigating the many providers involved with your care can be challenging. That’s why we offer Patient Navigators for all our breast cancer patients. These oncology-trained nurses work directly with patients throughout their cancer journey to help them make informed decisions.
As you face your breast cancer diagnosis, know that you are not alone. The caring professionals at the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute HCA Midwest Health are by your side, providing the support, care and leading-edge treatments you need to go from being a breast cancer patient to a breast cancer survivor.