Now You See It… Now You Don’t

How breast cancer surgery is revolutionizing a woman’s cosmetic outcome—and confidence.

By Dr. Anne Kobbermann, M.D., Board-certified and Fellowship-trained Breast Surgical Oncologist, Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Overland Park Regional, Overland Park, Kansas, Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Menorah Medical Center, Overland Park, Kansas

As a breast surgical oncologist who has worked with hundreds of women facing breast cancer, each conversation I have with a patient is unique because each woman possesses her own personal history, circumstances and life experiences. They come to my office with different concerns, questions and fears, but inevitably I’m asked “What about the scar?”

While some women are empowered by breast surgery scars, regarding them as a symbol of beating the cancer, for many, scars serve as troubling visual reminders of the disease.

Studies have shown that scars can significantly impact a woman’s psychological and emotional recovery—and even subsequent quality of life—post-surgery. Scars frequently have a direct correlation to a woman’s self-confidence level, her approach to intimacy and overall body image. Cosmetic outcomes for my patients are a priority, but until recently, I couldn’t always ease the minds of my nipple-sparing mastectomy and lumpectomy patients.

As a Hidden Scar-trained surgeon, I can now perform the advanced surgical technique that treats breast cancer as effectively as traditional breast cancer surgery.  My first candidate was Vicky, a 53-year-old woman whose mother had passed from breast cancer.  Vicky was diagnosed with breast cancer on May 6, 2016, and later confided that she did something very uncharacteristic for her personality: she didn’t conduct an ounce of research on treatments and outcomes and everything else that goes along with the disease.

“The whole prominent scar thing associated with breast surgery didn’t even occur to me—I was determined to focus on positivity during my cancer journey,” she shared.

Of course, we did address scarring when I presented Vicky with the Hidden Scar surgical option.

In December 2016, I did Vicky’s partial mastectomy using Hidden Scar, removing the cancerous tissue through a single incision made in a discreet location, resulting in the “hidden scar.” The procedure helped to preserve a natural-looking breast post-surgery by sparing the nipple, areola and surrounding tissue.

During Vicky’s first follow-up appointment after surgery, she was elated.

“It was amazing to not only have my breast intact, but to have the scar not even visible,” Vicky told me. “It’s a very powerful thing to not have a scar after major breast surgery.”

As a breast surgical oncologist, I am with each patient, on their journey, through peaks and valleys.  I am invested in making a difference in outcomes and if it includes boosting a woman’s self-esteem following breast surgery by hiding a scar, that is a sweet victory in the fight against cancer.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do notnecessarily reflect the official policy or position of Invuity, Inc.

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