Treatment for breast cancer most often involves a surgical procedure to remove the cancerous tumor (lumpectomy) or the entire breast (mastectomy), depending on the case. In the past, the scars left after surgery were obvious and a constant reminder of cancer treatment. Recently, advances in surgery techniques have made it possible for successful procedures to be performed in ways that leave less visible scars.
To minimize the visibility of scars and leave a woman looking as natural as possible, surgeons make incisions in less obvious areas, such as in the fold beneath the breast, along the border of the areola or along a natural crease in the armpit. Using the hidden scar technique, specialists are able to successfully treat a woman’s cancer while also preserving quality of life and appearance that can be important as women find their new normal. Hidden scar nipple-sparing mastectomies remove all the tissue from the breast while preserving the nipple and areola for a more natural appearance.
There are a few risks associated with nipple-sparing mastectomies, such as loss of sensation around the nipple and loss of the nipple.
A nipple-sparing mastectomy is performed by both a breast surgical oncologist and a plastic surgeon, who performs the first steps of reconstruction. Taking a multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment, Cone Health Cancer Center’s exceptional team of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, general surgeons, plastic surgeons and other cancer-related medical experts meet together to develop each patient’s individualized treatment plan and ensure that each patient is educated and comfortable with the plan.
Matthew Wakefield, MD, is a surgeon and the medical director of the Cone Health Breast Cancer Program. He completed medical school at University of Alabama, Birmingham School of Medicine and completed his residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC. After medical school, Dr. Wakefield entered active duty with the U.S. Army in 1998.