Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Hidden scar breast surgery provides better cosmetic outcome for patients

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“My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in April of 2015,” said Patty Rabine.

As Patty’s mom started her breast cancer journey, Patty wondered if it was genetic.

“I just happened to be on campus one day with one of my friends and we were talking and Dr. Merrigan overhead that my mom had breast cancer and she asked me what kind it was. And I told her triple negative and she recommended that my mom be tested for the BRCA mutation,” said Patty.

Patty’s mom then met with Kayla York, a genetic counselor at the Avera Cancer Institute. Her results came back positive for BRCA2. That’s when Patty decided to get tested as well.

“I knew there was a 50% chance, but I guess I just wasn’t really prepared. I just really thought that that wasn’t the news I was going to get that day. Once I got the news that I was BRCA positive, and I visited with the doctors, I knew I was going to ultimately have the prophylactic surgery,” said Patty.

Dr. Tricia Merrigan with Comprehensive Breast Care told Patty what options she had.

“It is nice to know they have the opportunity to have a good cosmetic outcome with everything that they’ve gone through,” said Dr. Merrigan.

“My biggest concern actually was probably, well gosh do I really want to look at scars like that? I know what my mom went through and I’ve seen my mom and she did not have reconstruction. Dr. Merrigan actually said, ‘Dr. Shashikant, he’s doing some newer stuff, do you want to visit with him about it?’ And I was like yes!” said Patty.

“We’re trying to make sure patients have every option available to them to get the best result that meets their expectations and for some patients they would really prefer the scars to be in places that are not as obvious to the naked eye as other scars can be. The idea of the hidden scar is, in what way can we leverage the technology that’s available right now to provide that for patients,” said Dr. Mark Shashikant, plastic surgeon with Avera Medical Group Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

A typical scar for breast reconstruction or mastectomy would be across the front of the breast. With the hidden scar technique, the surgeon puts the scar underneath the breast or camouflages them in different folds of the breast so they look more natural.

After discussing the hidden scar technique with Dr. Shashikant, Patty felt this was the right choice for her.

“When I look in the mirror, I really don’t see any reminder of what I went through and I feel like that really just helps with the moving on process,” said Patty.

“In some ways, we’ve always had to compromise on what’s going to look best on the patient and what’s best for the patient’s cancer surgery. And technologies like these are finally allowing us to do both at the same time,” said Dr. Shashikant.

Using the hidden scar technique does not increase the patient’s risk of recurrence and it improves their cosmetic outcome.

For more information, just call 877-AT-AVERA.