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Breast Surgery

Clinical Expertise

For appointments and information, please call (212) 821-0833

The Weill Cornell Breast Center team of surgeons is at the leading edge of surgical approaches that seek to eradicate a patient's cancer while sparing healthy tissue, minimizing scarring, and restoring the breast to its normal appearance. The areas of expertise and innovations advanced by our surgeons include those that follow.

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy


Dr. Rache Simmons

Sentinel lymph node biopsy enables the surgeon to determine if breast cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes without removing a large area of tissue under the arm where the axillary lymph nodes are located. The sentinel lymph node is the first lymph node to which cancer is likely to spread from the primary site. The node is identified by injecting a blue dye and/or a radioactive tracer compound into the area around the tumor. The surgeon then removes the sentinel node or nodes, and it is analyzed for the presence of cancer cells. If cancer is not present then the remaining lymph nodes do not need to be removed. Weill Cornell breast surgeons were among the first to perform sentinel node biopsy – a procedure that is widely used today.

Skin-sparing Mastectomy

Eleni Tousimis, MD
Dr. Eleni Tousimis
Skin-sparing mastectomy was developed as a way to remove breast tissue through a tiny incision in order to preserve as much normal skin tissue as possible. Offering women an alternative to traditional mastectomy or standard lumpectomy, our surgeons combine surgery to remove the cancer with microvascular techniques and plastic and reconstructive surgery. This approach makes it possible for patients to undergo surgical removal of the breast cancer, immediately followed by reconstruction of the breast to retain its natural shape and appearance. Our surgeons were among the first in New York City to incorporate this technique and advance a new field called oncoplastic surgery.

Today, skin-sparing procedures are also applied to preserving the areola – the pigmented skin around the nipple – allowing for enhanced nipple reconstruction and making it virtually impossible to detect scars or other signs of surgery. Our Breast Center was the first to use areola skin preservation mastectomy, which enables the patient to have the same skin pigmentation in the nipple area that existed prior to the surgery.

Breast Reduction Surgery

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Article on Weill Cornell Breast Center's Interdisciplinary Care
The Weill Cornell Breast Center has pioneered a new surgical option for breast cancer patients that combines removal of the cancerous tumor with breast reduction in one surgical procedure. Benefits include reduced risk of complications and improved cosmetic outcome. The procedure is designed for large-breasted women who have breast cancer and who experience back and neck pain associated with their large breasts. The reduced breasts retain sensation and have the potential ability to produce milk. The rates of cancer recurrence and survival with this type of oncoplastic surgery are equivalent to those of traditional breast cancer surgery. In addition, radiation therapy for large-breasted women brings complications that include skin breakdown, chronic swelling, and tenderness. By performing breast reduction, these complications are greatly reduced.

Targeted Radiation Therapy

Since 2002, our breast surgeons, in collaboration with the Department of Radiation Oncology, have been employing new breakthroughs in radiation therapy technology to treat certain types of breast cancer. This includes MammoSite breast treatment – a relatively new brachytherapy technique that involves the insertion of a balloon catheter into the breast tissue immediately following removal of a tumor. The catheter is inflated and is used to deliver the radiation to the tissue that surrounds the space that formerly contained the tumor. With this method, therapeutic doses of radiation can be delivered to breast tissue in a relatively short time – typically over several days – and with minimal discomfort, providing the patient with a full dose of radiation that would otherwise take six weeks. When treatment is complete, the catheter is then removed in an outpatient procedure.

Oncoplasty Surgery

Dr. Swistel is also one of the pioneers of oncoplastic surgery, in which a lumpectomy is combined with reduction cosmetic surgery for large-breasted women. He continues to pioneer techniques in surgery that provide effective removal of tumors with reconstuctive techniques that leave the patients without visible scars and excellent tumor therapy. This vision has culminated in the establishment of a specialized center of oncoplastic surgery, where teams of surgeons combine the latest techniques for tumor removal along with reconstructive options. This leaves patients with no visible reminder of the breast cancer, better cosmetic results, and reduced risk. Many studies show a huge psychological benefit to woman who undergo oncoplasty.

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