The Future of Mastectomy is Here: Robotic Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

Monmouth County, NJ – Finding a lump during a breast self-exam is terrifying for any woman. Unfortunately, one in eight women will develop a lump that results in a breast cancer diagnosis. Yvonne Zucco is one out of those eight.

Earlier this year, Yvonne felt a lump in her left breast and made an immediate mammography appointment near her home in Ridley Township, Pennsylvania. This led to a biopsy performed by breast surgeon Dr. Archit Naik, which led to a devastating diagnosis of Stage IIA breast cancer with metastasis to her lymph nodes. With help and encouragement from her children and grandchildren, Yvonne underwent four months of aggressive chemotherapy with the plan of subsequent bilateral mastectomy.

During a consultation, Dr. Naik discussed surgical options with Yvonne. Luckily, she was an ideal candidate for a skin, nipple and areola-sparing mastectomy with immediate multi-stage reconstruction. This would, however, include expanders and additional surgery for implants. There was, fortunately, an innovative option offered by Naik’s colleague, Dr. Stephen Chagares: a robotic nipple-sparing mastectomy with no visible scarring on the breast and immediate one stage breast reconstruction.

Dr. Chagares, a breast surgeon in Monmouth County, New Jersey, has been performing mastectomies for 23 years and robotic operations for years. Upon invitation to The European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy, Dr. Chagares trained under Dr. Antonio Toesca, the pioneer of robotic mastectomy. With robotic assistance, Dr. Chagares makes a small, 3 cm incision to the side of the breast, tucked neatly beneath the armpit. Dr. Naik further explained that another colleague, Dr. Andrew Elkwood, a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, could immediately place her implants during the same operation in a one stage manner. Upon hearing it was possible to have a mastectomy without visible scars on the breasts and immediate one stage reconstruction, Yvonne made appointments with Dr. Chagares and Dr. Elkwood.

Upon meeting with Dr. Chagares, Yvonne learned that her robotic nipple-sparing mastectomy would result in the total removal of breast tissue. Dr. Chagares assured her that the single robotic-assisted incision would be well off to the side, hiding the scar under her armpit, with immediate implant placement to follow. “To be able to wake from surgery, look down, not see any visible scars, and have my nipples and areolas intact with implants in, is amazing,” Yvonne recounted these thoughts from her consultation with Dr. Chagares.

Yvonne then met with Dr. Elkwood to discuss reconstruction options. “Although no reconstructive option is perfect, in many instances a robotic mastectomy with immediate reconstruction may be the best way to treat a woman’s disease while leaving the breast aesthetically intact—this is an excellent treatment option for Yvonne,” said Dr. Elkwood.

On September 14th, Yvonne was the first cancer patient ever to have a robotic nipple-sparing mastectomy with immediate reconstruction in the United States. Two days later, she returned home and one week from the day of her procedure, Dr. Naik removed her drains. At her three-week post-operative visit, Dr. Chagares happily reported that Yvonne was cancer free. Yvonne is now back to her routine: five grandchildren keeping her busy; co-workers who missed her; and daughters who still have their mother—all without the glaring, visual reminder that comes with a traditional mastectomy.

“Robotic Mastectomy, with immediate reconstruction, opens the door to a new era of mastectomy and a new outlook for patients who are candidates, offering a modern approach to an operation that has been so physically, emotionally, and psychologically scarring,” says Dr. Chagares.

Dr. Chagares and Dr. Elkwood are proud to lead the first program of its kind in the United States, paving the way for a future of breast cancer care, starting with robotic mastectomy. They offer this revolutionary procedure at various hospitals throughout Monmouth County, New Jersey.

Further information is located on and appointments can be made by calling his office in Tinton Falls at (732) 450-9700.