Breast Conserving Surgery

Virginia Mason's breast cancer surgeons in Seattle, Washington, use oncoplastic techniques to provide cancer control and cosmetic repair in one procedure.

Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, surgical breast oncologist
Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, is a surgical breast oncologist at Virginia Mason, in Seattle, Washington.

The treatment of early-stage breast cancer can include lumpectomy, which is the removal of a cancerous tissue along with some surrounding tissue. Also known as a partial mastectomy, the procedure can leave a significant defect in the breast. Oncoplastic breast cancer surgery incorporates the techniques of breast cancer surgery and plastic surgery, allowing the surgeon to reshape the breast tissue at the time of lumpectomy to achieve the best possible cosmetic result.

The major advantage of having oncoplastic surgery is that it allows surgeons to remove cancer without leaving a disfiguring defect in the breast. After thorough tumor removal, the surgeon reshapes the remaining breast tissue to try to maintain the shape and contour of the breast. This not only achieves a normal-appearing breast shape after lumpectomy but can often improve the appearance of the breast, without the use of artificial implants or transplanted tissue. If needed, the other healthy breast can be lifted or reshaped at the same time to achieve a symmetrical look.

Oncoplastic Surgery Team

Learn about your options for breast conserving surgery using oncoplastic techniques by calling Virginia Mason's Breast Cancer Nurse Coordinator at (206) 223-8862.

Who is a candidate for oncoplastic breast surgery?

Any woman who is eligible for breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy or partial mastectomy) may be a candidate for oncoplastic surgery. In addition, some women facing possible mastectomy due to larger tumor size may be appropriate patients for an oncoplastic procedure. There are many different oncoplastic surgical options, and the best option is chosen after consultation with the breast surgical oncologist.

What makes the oncoplastic breast cancer surgery approach different from traditional lumpectomy?

Traditional lumpectomy removes the cancer and leaves a cavity in the breast which fills with fluid that usually is absorbed over time. As the fluid absorbs and the area heals, there may be indentation or puckering of skin at the site. With oncoplastic surgery, the breast tissue is used to fill the cavity so that there is less chance of deformity as the breast heals. With oncoplastic surgery:

  • The tumor is widely excised for optimal cancer control
  • The breast tissue is reshaped
  • The nipple is repositioned if needed
  • The other healthy breast can be reshaped so both breasts match

What are some other advantages of oncoplastic breast cancer surgery?

Oncoplastic breast cancer surgery has a number of other benefits:

  • It offers women with larger tumors the option of breast-conserving surgery. Because more tissue can be removed using oncoplastic techniques, mastectomy may be avoided for some women.
  • It offers reshaping and often cosmetic lift of the breast without the use of artificial breast implants or tissue transferred from another part of the body.
  • Oncoplastic surgery can usually be performed on an outpatient basis. Recovery is faster and far less painful than for traditional reconstructive surgeries. Additionally, patients can avoid having subsequent revision surgeries, which are often needed with breast implants.
  • Choosing oncoplastic breast cancer surgery does not preclude a patient from having additional surgery in the future.

Learn about your options for oncoplastic breast cancer surgery

Contact Virginia Mason's Breast Cancer Nurse Coordinator, in Seattle, Washington, at (206) 223-8862 to make an appointment or learn more about your options for breast conserving surgery using oncoplastic techniques.