WAUKESHA -- A Waukesha-area doctor is the first, and right now, the only surgeon in Wisconsin performing a brand new procedure for breast cancer patients. The procedure is designed to hide the patient's scar.
"I remember lying on the table right before they were taking me into surgery and I asked her 'am I going to have a hole? Am I going to have a divot? Is it going to be smaller on this side?' And she said 'nope -- you're not going to look any different,'" said Teresa Gerg, breast cancer survivor.
Dr. Kelli Pettit is Teresa Gerg's surgeon. Gerg was a candidate for a new procedure, Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery, last winter.
"My scar is like a half circle around my areola. You can't see it. It is faded. It is like it is not even there," said Gerg.
Dr. Pettit is the only breast cancer surgeon in the state certified to do the surgery. She is trained to use a retractor that allows for better visibility of the breast, leaving only a small scar. It is about an inch-and-a-half in length around the areola, underneath the breast or under the armpit.
"So this provides that retraction and light in a way that doesn't burn the patient. It is safe and cool to the touch, so it can be right on the tissue and skin," said Dr. Pettit.
Dr. Kelli Pettit,
As a breast cancer survivor, Dr. Pettit understands what her patients are dealing with.
"All you're thinking about is wanting to be cured. You're not really thinking about anything else," said Dr. Pettit.
She says it is comforting there is no indentation to the breast.
"Because you are working through a small hole to get to a location," said Dr. Pettit.
Gerg is feeling healthy and beautiful and says she has a new outlook on life.
"I feel like everyday is a gift," said Gerg.
Each ProHealth Care breast cancer patient is now evaluated to see if they are a good candidate for Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery. Candidacy depends on the size of the tumor, shape of the breast and the tumor's proximity to other parts of the body -- like skin and muscle tissue.