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Is Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery Right for You?

Oct 27 2017
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Cancer can leave emotional and physical scars. But a new procedure offered by Mercy Health is giving breast cancer patients the opportunity to hide one scar for good.

Hidden scar breast cancer surgery uses unique retractors that hold open and light the surgical incisions. After the surgeon removes the tumor, the patient has a small “hidden” incision beneath the breast, under the arm or in the dark area of the breast. Eventually, the scar fades, resulting in little to no visible reminder of the breast cancer surgery.

Jen Steinmann, a 33-year-old nurse and mother, had hidden scar breast cancer surgery at Mercy Health Fairfield Hospital. Her surgical breast oncologist, Dr. Jacquelyn Palmer, is the first Hidden Scar™ certified surgeon in Butler County.

“I felt extremely lucky that I had fallen into the right hands of someone who could offer the hidden scar surgery to me,” Steinmann said. “One of the hardest things for me about being diagnosed, was that I was faced with my own vanity.”

Like many women, Steinmann was dreading brittle nails, radiation burns and losing her hair, eyebrows and a large portion of her breasts.

“That’s why when I found out hidden scar surgery was an option, I was able to see long term,” she said. “In 5, 10 or 30 years, all those things about being a woman are still going to be important to me. If I could preserve the integrity of my breast, that’s something I wanted to do.”

Who is a candidate for hidden scar breast cancer surgery?

Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery can be performed for a nipple sparing mastectomy or a lumpectomy. Eligibility depends on size and location of the tumor, breast shape and breast size.

Ideal candidates for hidden scar mastectomies have A to C cup-sized breasts and little to no sagging skin. Hidden scar lumpectomies work best for confined cancers that are small enough to be removed completely.

Common use cases for Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery are for :

  • non-invasive breast cancer
  • non-invasive tumors that aren’t directly beneath the nipple
  • high-risk BRCA mutation patients, who are undergoing a risk-reduction mastectomy

How effective is hidden scar breast cancer surgery?

Hidden scar surgery works just as well as other techniques. Additionally, patients who have hidden scar surgery aren’t at a higher risk for their cancer to reoccur.

“Having a hidden scar doesn’t take away from the effectiveness of the procedure,” Steinmann said. “It takes away from the trauma of it.”

Why choose Mercy Health for Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery?

Steinmann went to Fairfield Hospital for testing because of a doctor referral. However, it wasn’t very long before the decision to stay at Mercy Health became her own.

“My initial experience with the staff who helped me with my diagnosis made me feel like I was at home,” she said. “Before I got started on my treatment I knew I wanted to stay with this group who had already proven they treated me like family. This was personal and they cared.”

Steinmann doesn’t only feel fortunate that she found the hidden scar surgery option — she feels fortunate that she discovered the cancer early. Because she is younger than the recommended age for mammograms, she wouldn’t have found the cancer without performing a breast self-exam

“It would have taken me a long time to find this cancer if I didn’t do breast self-exams. It could have changed my life,” she said. “Don’t let the fear of finding breast cancer stop you. There are people, communities and resources out there to help you, and early detection is key.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery, our Mercy Health team is here for you. Call us at 513-924-8535 or learn more about reducing your risk of breast cancer.


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