Breast Cancer Surgery and Your Emotional Health

The Ascension Wisconsin breast care team has knowledgeable, trustworthy surgeons who care about your emotional health and your long-term well-being.

Breast Cancer Screening and Treatment Options

Ascension doctors and nurses work quickly to identify and diagnose breast cancer early, but we need your help. Remember to schedule your annual mammogram and please don’t ignore lumps, breast changes (skin changes, nipple rash, increase in size, dimpling, pain) or nipple discharge. Learn more about mammography.

There are 21 different subtypes of non-invasive and invasive breast cancer. Our doctors have the expertise to analyze the molecular make-up of pre-cancerous cells and malignant tumors (for example, HER2 +/-, HR+/-, BRAC1, and BRAC2). Treatment recommendations depend on whether your cancer is slow growing or more aggressive as well as the stage at diagnosis.

The most effective treatment for breast cancer requires the optimal combination of different treatments. At Ascension Wisconsin, our treatment plans are personalized to meet your specific needs. Our integrated care team includes doctors, patient navigators, genetic counselors, dietitians, rehab therapists (physical therapists), social workers, palliative care specialists and financial advocates to ensure your long-term wellbeing.

Surgical breast care – offering breast conservation, with the best possible cosmetic outcome applying techniques such as hidden scar surgery or partnering with plastic surgeons to provide optimal shape and symmetry. If a mastectomy is needed, we achieve more natural results by applying the nipple sparing mastectomy when possible.

Plastic surgery – coordinating breast reconstruction whether immediately or at a later date to offer symmetry side to side as well as help women feel whole again after mastectomy.

Radiotherapy – decreasing the risk of cancer recurrence in the breast or chest wall after surgery with high-beam, precision radiation.

Medical oncology using anti-hormonal therapy, oral and infusion chemotherapy to stop the tumor growth.

Genetic testing and counseling – these tests can help you better understand your risk for hereditary cancers. They can also help you make informed decisions about your choice for surgery.

Cancer rehabilitation – available before, during and after cancer treatment to help patients improve daily functioning and quality of life.

Palliative care – focusing on relieving symptoms, pain and stress advanced care management and other integrative services. Download this guide for patients and families.

Clinical Trials – Research studies and clinical trials can give patients the opportunity to receive advanced treatments. Our doctors lead medical research studies and participate in cancer clinical trials. Information about a clinical trial is available from your doctor and our clinical trial coordinators.

Support programs – We focus on caring for your mind, body and spirit. We provide nutrition education, counseling and spiritual care for a more complete approach to care.

Financial advocate program – Financial advocates are here for you, to help you throughout your cancer journey. We assess each patient’s benefits and insurance coverage so patients can focus on their treatment and recovery. In addition, we help find financial resources to offset out of pocket expenses when possible.

Patient navigators – Patient navigators partner with patients and their families to provide individualized assistance and support. They help patients effectively navigate across the continuum of the healthcare system to ensure they receive timely and high-quality care. They facilitate and coordinate care, assess and identify individual patient needs, provide education and support, and connect patients and their families with additional supportive care resources and services.

Hair studios – Ask us about our hair studios which offer hair systems for women and men.

If you receive an abnormal mammogram report or if you are concerned about your breast health, talk to us. Our doctors are highly knowledgeable and experienced. We want you to fully understand your treatment options, so you can make an informed decision.

Find a Doctor

Get compassionate, personalized care from one of our Breast Surgeons.

Hidden Scar Breast Surgery

Hidden Scar breast cancer surgery is an advanced approach to removing breast cancer. We pride ourselves on providing our patients with the most advanced surgical options in breast cancer surgery. We have surgeons who are trained and certified in oncoplastic hidden scar techniques.

Breast cancer can be surgically removed with a mastectomy procedure (your surgeon will remove all your breast tissue) or a lumpectomy procedure (your surgeon will remove only part of your breast tissue). With a Hidden Scar approach, our surgeons place your incision in a location that is hard to see, so that the scar is not visible when your incision heals. As a result, you have little to no visible reminder of the surgery or your cancer.

The Hidden Scar approach can be performed for nipple sparing mastectomy, lumpectomy or for lymph node dissection and removal procedures. The American College of Surgeons reports patients who undergo the Hidden Scar approach do not have a higher risk of cancer recurrence than patients who undergo any other type of technique. You may qualify for Hidden Scar breast cancer surgery based on the size and location of your tumor, your breast shape, and your breast size.

Hidden Scar Procedures

Hidden Scar surgery is applicable for many types of procedures:

  • Lumpectomy
  • Lymph node dissection and removal
  • Nipple sparing mastectomy

We have surgeons who have been trained and are certified in oncoplastic Hidden Scar techniques to ensure that you have the best cosmetic outcome with the removal of your cancer.

Hidden Scar Lumpectomy

In a lumpectomy procedure, your surgeon will remove a breast cancer tumor and a small portion of healthy tissue surrounding the tumor (margin) but will save most of the breast including the nipple area.

A lumpectomy can be performed as a Hidden Scar procedure. This means that the incision is made in a place that is hard to see. There are three different locations for a lumpectomy incision that make the scar less visible:

  1. Inframammary Fold: The natural crease beneath the breast
  2. Periareolar: Along the edges of the areola
  3. Axilla: In the armpit, usually hidden in a natural fold

You may be considered for a Hidden Scar lumpectomy if the size of the tumor is small enough relative to the size of your breast, and if the cancer has not spread to other areas of the breast.

Hidden Scar Nipple Sparing Mastectomy

In a mastectomy procedure, your surgeon removes a breast cancer tumor by removing all of the breast tissue. There are several mastectomy options: a mastectomy (simple and bilateral), a skin sparing mastectomy, and a nipple sparing mastectomy (NSM). A nipple sparing mastectomy is a type of mastectomy procedure where the surgeon removes all of the breast tissue but does not remove the nipple.

A nipple sparing mastectomy can be performed as a Hidden Scar procedure. This means that the incision is made in a place that is hard to see. There is one location for a nipple sparing mastectomy that makes the scar less visible, which is the Inframammary Fold — the natural crease beneath the breast.

You may be considered for a Hidden Scar nipple sparing mastectomy if no cancerous tissue is found in the nipple and your breast’s size and shape allows for it. Additionally, a Hidden Scar nipple sparing mastectomy is a safe approach that can be used in patients seeking a prophylactic mastectomy (a mastectomy that is performed even if cancer does not exist – this may be performed if the patient has a family history or carries the BRCA gene), in women with DCIS (non-invasive cancer), or small tumors that do not lie directly beneath the nipple.

Want more information on Hidden Scar Procedures? Visit to learn more.

Find a Doctor

Get compassionate, personalized care from one of our Breast Surgeons who are certified in oncoplastic Hidden Scar techniques:

Additional Breast Surgeons who perform hidden scar surgery:

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

It is important to have a clear understanding of your surgical options before deciding on the best treatment plan for you. At Ascension Wisconsin, we find that many patients do not know what types of questions to ask. We want to make sure you have all the information you need, so we have put together a list of questions for you.

We encourage you to print these questions and bring them along to your office visit.

Top Questions

  1. What type of cancer do I have, what is the size and has it spread?
  2. What are my surgical options, and why?
  3. Am I a candidate for Hidden Scar nipple sparing mastectomy or Hidden Scar lumpectomy? Are you trained in Hidden Scar procedures?
  4. Is the cancer recurrence rate the same with skin sparing or nipple sparing mastectomy compared to a simple mastectomy? After reconstruction will both of my breasts look the same?
  5. Will reconstruction to both of my breasts look the same?
  6. What will my scars look like?

Additional Questions by Topic

Questions About Pre-Operative Treatment

  • Do I need a 2nd opinion?
  • What kind of treatment do I need?
  • Should I have a breast MRI?
  • Is my cancer genetic?
  • Do I need to be tested for breast cancer genes?
  • How quickly do I need surgery?

Questions About Lumpectomy

  • If I have a lumpectomy, can the cancer come back in my breast?
  • Is lumpectomy as good as mastectomy?
  • Am I a candidate for a Hidden Scar lumpectomy?
  • Will I need lymph node surgery if I have a lumpectomy?
  • Will I get a big swollen arm if you take out my lymph nodes?
  • Are you trained in Hidden Scar Lumpectomy techniques?
  • Will I need radiation after a lumpectomy?

Questions About Mastectomy

  • Are there different kinds of mastectomies?
  • Can you save my nipple?
  • Am I a candidate for skin-sparing or nipple-sparing mastectomy?
  • Am I a candidate for Hidden Scar nipple-sparing mastectomy?
  • Are you trained in Hidden Scar techniques?
  • Can the cancer come back after mastectomy?
  • Will I need radiation after a mastectomy?

Questions About Post-Operative Treatment

  • Is surgery all I need, or will I also need radiation, chemotherapy or an anti-hormone pill?
  • I have heard sometimes I need a 2nd operation. When would that happen to me?
  • Will I need plastic surgery?
  • Can I have reconstruction?
  • Who does the reconstruction?
  • What are the different types of reconstructions?

Full service cancer centers

At Ascension Wisconsin, our care teams listen to your concerns and work with you to determine the appropriate care plan. If cancer is detected, our cancer care team has proactive treatments that help your long-term needs. Our radiation oncologists, medical oncologists and specialty care surgeons deliver advanced care for all stages of cancer.

Southeast Wisconsin Cancer Centers

Northeast Wisconsin Cancer Centers

Featured Blog Article

Ascension provider, Hanadi BuAli, MD, shares information about different cancer stages.

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