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What is hidden scar surgery?

For women with breast cancer who require a mastectomy or lumpectomy, surgical scars can be a painful and emotional reminder of their ordeal. Hidden scary surgery offers the option to remove cancerous tumors while minimizing disfigurement from large incisions.

“Mastectomy incisions across the breast can leave a scar of up to 10 centimeters while lumpectomies can leave scars as large as four centimeters,” said Jana L. Deitch, MD, FACS, Director of the Breast Health Program at St. Catherine of Siena Hospital. “This can be psychologically damaging for women. Hidden scar surgery allows them to look in a mirror without seeing a large scar that reminds them of what they went through.”


Who is a candidate for hidden scar surgery?

Your doctor will evaluate if hidden scar surgery is right for you based on factors including:

  • Size and location of the tumor
  • Breast shape 
  • Breast size

What happens during surgery?

Hidden Scar Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy

A surgeon removes all breast tissue but leaves the nipple intact. This surgery may be an option if no cancerous tissue is found in or directly beneath the nipple. An incision is placed in the natural crease beneath the breast to hide the surgical scar. 


Hidden Scar Lumpectomy

A surgeon removes the tumor and a small portion of healthy tissue around the tumor. The tumor's location determines where to hide the scar. Options may include in the armpit, the natural crease under the breast (along the bra line) or around the edges of the areola (tissue coloration allows a scar to be hidden and not noticeable).


In addition to minimizing the appearance of post-surgical scarring, your surgeon will reconstruct the breast to ensure it is cosmetically appealing. 

“If the skin is just closed during a lumpectomy, a scar and a dimple or contour deformity is seen,” said Dr. Deitch. “During surgery, the tissue is built up to maintain the shape of the breast while making the scar hidden.”

What should I expect after the surgery?

As with any surgery, your body will need time to heal. Your surgeon will review helpful information with you, such as:

  • How to keep the surgical area clean
  • How to manage pain
  • When to schedule follow-up appointments 
  • When you can resume normal activities

Find Care at Catholic Health

Call 866-MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you.

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