Robotic mastectomy, reconstruction leaves smaller scars

Elodie Trouche, 45, underwent robotic double mastectomy and breast reconstructive surgery on Sunday. Two days later, she is ready to go home, doctors say.

Elodie opted to have genetic testing done after her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. Doctors found a mutation in the BRCA2 gene, which meant she had a 50 to 70 percent chance of developing breast cancer.

"She went through a lumpectomy, a mastectomy and I remember seeing the scars on her breast and her back and I was terrified," Elodie said.

For the past decade, doctors in many parts of the world had been using an open approach for mastectomies, which require a long incision on the breast. That procedure leaves scars.

However, Elodie is left with a small scar, thanks to revolutionary robotic nipple-sparing mastectomy surgery followed by immediate reconstruction.

Dr. Neil Tanna said this is a first for the United States.

"What we were able to do was use a small incision—3-centimeter incision—and place it off of the breast, far away, near the armpit, so when a patient puts their arm down it's completely hidden," Tanna said.

This groundbreaking surgery was part of a clinical trial at Northwell Health. Elodie was the first patient. Doctors are looking to enroll 25 more.

"We want to show and demonstrate what we really believe—that that small scar, which is a minimally invasive surgery, is going to translate into less pain, shorter hospital stay, less complications, and ultimately higher patient satisfaction," Tanna said.

Doctors believe the 7-hour minimally invasive surgery will ultimately allow women to feel empowered.