The WellSpan Spotlight

Health and wellness

Oncoplastic surgery combines breast cancer surgery with plastic surgery  

When WellSpan breast surgeons remove a lump in a woman's breast, they know how important the surgery is for both the patient's physical and emotional health. 

Of course, the surgical team removes the tumor and any surrounding tissue in the most effective way to treat the patient's breast cancer. But they also design the surgery so that women feel and look like themselves as much as possible afterward. 

WellSpan embraces the approach, called oncoplastic surgery, an evolving specialty in breast surgery. Oncoplastic surgery combines the strengths of breast cancer surgery and plastic surgery, offering optimum cancer care while maintaining a woman's quality of life and appearance. 

It requires coordination between WellSpan radiologists, oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, pathologists, and plastic surgeons. And it's part of the holistic and focused care that WellSpan offers cancer patients, including a multidisciplinary team of navigators, financial counselors, social workers, and others who support patients undergoing surgery. 

"When a woman has surgery to remove part of a breast, it has the potential to alter how she feels about herself," says Dr. Jaime Slotkin, a breast surgeon who is part of the WellSpan oncoplastic team. "Oncoplastic surgery focuses on holistic breast care and works to achieve the best potential for cosmetic outcomes. Breast cancer treatment is focused on diagnosing and treating women as early as we can. Women typically live a long life after surgery, and we want them to feel healthy AND happy." 

You have our expert teams to guide and care for you during your breast surgery journey. 

What is oncoplastic surgery? 

Oncoplastic surgery is when a surgeon removes a tumor and reshapes the remaining breast tissue, in both breasts, if necessary, to maintain symmetry so the patient retains a more natural appearance. 

"The goal is to make the patient comfortable with how she looks and feels," Slotkin says. 

Who is a candidate for oncoplastic surgery? 

Most patients are undergoing a lumpectomy, or partial mastectomy. Women who choose a full mastectomy or complete removal of the breast have other options for reconstruction. 

The best candidates for oncoplastic surgery are women with smaller, single tumors and larger breasts. Women with small breasts or those who have had more than one lumpectomy may not be candidates. The location of the tumor is also important. Your WellSpan team will help to determine if you are a candidate for oncoplastic surgery. 

What are the advantages? 

Oncoplastic surgery does not sacrifice clinical treatment for cosmetic treatment. Its reconstructive techniques and approach ensure a good experience for patients by offering: 

  • Complete cancer removal. 
  • A single surgery, often done on an outpatient basis. 
  • Less scarring. 
  • A shorter recovery time. 
  • The best possible cosmetic outcome. 

"I want to guide my patients through this process with care, so they are more in charge of what's happening to them. As a woman, that resonates with me," Slotkin says. "Breast cancer patients are mothers, sisters, and daughters. I have a lot of empathy for what they are going through." 

Learn more about our breast care program and meet our expert board-certified breast surgery team: 

Dr. Heather Thieme, WellSpan Breast Program Director 

Dr. Dennis Johnson, WellSpan York Hospital WellSpan Surgical Oncologist  

Dr. Timothy R. McKee, WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital Breast Program Director 

Dr. Catherine Plzak, WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital Breast Program Director 

Dr. Heather Portaro, WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital Breast Program Director 

Dr. Jaime Slotkin, WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital Breast Program Director