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A Mastectomy With No Scar? (With This New Technique, It’s Hidden)

October 05, 2017

Breast surgeons at the Hartford Healthcare Cancer Institute are performing a revolutionary procedure that treats specific types of breast cancer without leaving visible scars. 

Breast surgeon Dr. Elise Gates answers questions about the “hidden scar” technique that is making a big difference in the lives of some breast cancer patients. 

Q.  Describe the “hidden scar” technique. 

A.   The hidden scar surgical approach involves the surgeon placing an incision in a location where the scar is not visible once you heal from surgery. This eliminates the visual reminder of the surgery and the cancer after it is treated. This technique can be used either with a mastectomy where we remove the entire breast (which allows for a nipple sparing mastectomy), or a lumpectomy, where we are only removing a small portion of the breast. This is all done through incisions that we hide either around the edge of the areola, the inframmamary fold (where a bra’s underwire sits) or in the armpit.

Q.   Can all women with breast cancer needing surgery have this procedure?

A.   Unfortunately, not all women are candidates for hidden scar surgery. A surgeon will guide the patient to the most appropriate surgery based on the size and location of the tumor as well as breast shape and size. The good news is that with improved surgical technology, more and more women who weren’t thought to be good candidates for these hidden scar techniques in the past can now have them.

Q.  What are the results of this technology? 

A.   The goal of hidden scar surgery is to remove the cancer while minimizing noticeable scars and optimize how the breast looks after healing from your surgery

Q.  How does this compare to traditional surgery? How large will the scar actually be? 

A.  Traditional methods for a lumpectomy involve making the incision right over the tumor in the breast where the scar may be more visible when it heals. With a conventional mastectomy, the nipple and areola are removed along with the underlying breast leaving a linear scar where the nipple and areola used to be.

The size of the scar depends on the size of the cancer and whether tissue needs to be rearranged to maintain the shape of the breast. Even in cases where the incision needs to be larger, it can still be completely or mostly hidden to minimize the noticeable scar

Click here for more information about the Hidden Scar Center. Learn more here about the cancer treatment options available at the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at Hartford Hospital