The One Thing Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You About Your Breast Cancer Scar
By Dr. Maria Palafox
Just Google “dating after breast cancer surgery” to cry your eyes out.
A Google search on “breast cancer scars” results in everything from home remedies to reducing the appearance of your mastectomy or lumpectomy scar- to how to prepare a new love for what he is going to see the first time you disrobe. If you want to cry your eyes out, Google “dating after breast cancer surgery”. The first article that came up for me was a Match.com article where one patient stated, “The first time I was intimate with someone after reconstruction…the look on his face was devastating.” Or another patient that stated, “He didn’t try to explore my scars or my boobs.” Worse still, breastcancer.org has a post that suggests breast cancer patients “buy an irresistible dog or a quirky, irresistible car” to improve their likelihood of finding a partner.
The things I read went from bad to worse, with a doctor from Memorial Sloan-Kettering preparing her patients for breast cancer surgery by saying, “…None of us gets through life without emotional and physical scars and all of us are going to end up being scarred.” Ladies – this is crazy! You are not damaged goods!
The Emotional Toil of Breast Cancer Surgery Is Real.
The emotional toil of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment is one of the most challenging things a woman can face in her life. The struggle is real, the treatment is tough, and it takes more guts and chutzpah than an MMA fighter toughing it out in his biggest battle. Breast cancer survivors everywhere get it. The battle is long and drawn out, your opponent is a beast, you lose your hair, and you end up getting pretty beat up. Breast cancer survivors leave the ring with battle scars…literally. But, they shouldn’t.
Breast cancer survivors leave the ring with battle scars…literally. But, they shouldn’t.
Surgeons Are Trained To Create A Huge Scar Right Across Your Breast
I am a surgeon. I specialize in breast cancer surgery. We are trained to make the incision directly over the cancer mass without regard for the appearance of the breast. Why? Because it is the easiest way for us to see what we were doing. Yes, it’s that simple. You get a huge scar right where your breast used to be because quite frankly, it is easiest for us.
So even if you get reconstruction after your mastectomy (a “boob job” after your breast removal), you still have a huge scar right across your breast that you have to stare at in the mirror every day. And that your lover has to stare at. And if your lover happens to be a “boob guy”, matters get worse fast. Hmmm….Have you ever met a lover that wasn’t a “boob guy”? Yeah. That’s my point. The. Huge. Scar. Totally. Sucks.
But, things have changed. We now have incredible tools that allow us to operate with amazing clarity and vision regardless of where we make the incision. That’s right, my sweet ladies. We have the option to hide your scar and leave your breasts looking perfectly…perfect.
The second I heard about the possibility to train and perform surgeries with a hidden scar, I was all over it. In fact, I was one of the first surgeons in Texas to become Hidden Scar certified. I think this training and certification is imperative for our nation’s breast cancer surgeons. The training is intense and it takes a mastery of the technique to perform it well, but it is worth every second when you can look your patient in the eye and tell them that their scar is not something they or their partners will ever have to worry about.
During the Hidden Scar surgical procedure, I typically make the surgical incision right along the natural fold underneath your breast. This is called the inframammary fold. This is where most plastic surgeons have made breast augmentation incisions for years – no one thinks a woman with a boob job is damaged goods! Why? Because no one ever sees the scar!
Depending on the location and size of your tumor, I also use Hidden Scar nipple sparing mastectomy techniques as well as alternate incision locations (along the border of the areola or in your armpit) when the scar is better hidden there. I then use this great technology by a company called Invuity that allows me to see with extreme clarity during your surgery. This procedure hands down provides patients with the best possible outcomes both clinically and aesthetically.
My goal is to scream from the mountains: “Ladies, don’t let your breast cancer surgeon scar you for life!”
When new technology comes out that allows us as surgeons to make a change in people’s lives that is this significant, I don’t feel that it can be overlooked. In fact, I think it should be screamed from the mountains. Things happen so fast after a patient is diagnosed with breast cancer. So fast, in fact, that often surgery and chemotherapy are scheduled within mere weeks of a diagnosis. This is why I love breast cancer awareness month. It gives women everywhere the opportunity to know their options and what to say no to in the event they or a loved one is ever diagnosed.
Ladies, say no to a big scar. Please read this and share it with the women in your life. Men, please read this for the sake of your wives, mothers, daughters and lovers. This is important stuff. Don’t let you surgeon scar you for life.
Dr. Maria Palafox is a Texas surgeon who specializes in breast cancer surgery and the Hidden Scar technique at South Texas Breast Surgery. She can be reached at www.MariaPalafoxMD.com