Local doctor performs 'hidden scar' surgery on breast tumors
Jen Steinmann was 33 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The nurse and mom was concerned about her health, her family and children and how everyone in her life would be affected. She was also concerned about scarring. "You realize this diagnoses is going to take a lot from you and cause deformities and scars that will be there forever," Steinmann said. But Dr. Jacquelyn Palmer, a surgical breast oncologist at Mercy Health Fairfield Hospital, used a newer technique called "hidden scar breast cancer surgery." "If we can allow them to feel more whole, more normal, and not compromise the integrity or quality of the cancer surgery itself, well then why not do it?" Palmer said. Specially-made retractors hold open and light the incision so the surgeon can remove the tumor. A small "hidden" incision is made beneath the breast, under the arm or in the dark area of the breast. "Over time, that scar fades into that transition of color," Palmer said. Whether a patient is eligible for the hidden scar procedure depends on a few things, like the size and location of the tumor. Many patients undergoing lumpectomies or nipple sparing mastectomies may be eligible. Palmer said there's no increased risk associated with the surgery, and it's usually covered by insurance. Steinmann said she hopes the procedure takes some of the fear away from others facing breast cancer. "It looks perfectly normal, like nothing happened," she said.