Hidden Scar Surgery is New Option for Breast Cancer Patients

Date: March 07, 2018

(From WCVB Channel 5 News)

BOSTON — A new option in breast cancer surgery is dramatically reducing the scarring common with traditional procedures in the past.

It's an option Brookline resident Joan Brager was open to after the the newlywed was diagnosed with breast cancer last September.

"I was completely shocked. I was surprised. I didn't expect to get cancer," Brager said.

She needed a lumpectomy and worried about potential scarring on her breast.

Traditionally, the procedure would place an incision directly over the tumor, making it very visible. But Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center now offers another option.

"The more we can make the scar smaller, or put it in a place that can't be seen, the better for the patient," said Dr. Ted James, chief of breast surgical oncology at BIDMC [and breast surgeon at BID-Needham].

He started offering hidden scar surgery here last year.

"What the hidden scar surgery tries to do is to place the incision in a less obvious or visible location. Under the breast is one location. You can also make it around the areola, that's another place where you can hide a scar, and if the incision is very high on the outer portion, we've actually gone through the armpit," James said.

New equipment allows surgeons to refine the technique, and the results have made a world of difference to Joan.

"I woke up from anesthesia, I looked down at my breast and it was still there in the exact shape and form that it had been in before. And I said, 'Oh! Oh, my God! You saved my breast.' It's healing a way that you don't see it, and the impact on me is enormous relief," Brager said.

Hidden scar surgery can take a bit longer than traditional procedures, but recovery time is about the same. A month after Brager's surgery, she was declared cancer-free.

For more information about hidden scar surgery at BIDMC, click here.