“I present it as these surgeries are primarily done as same-day surgeries, opening that idea and saying it with confidence,” Mindemann said. “We try to keep people out of the hospital. Being in the hospital can cause more complication.”
Deborah Regan, 67, of east Santa Rosa, has never liked the idea of staying overnight at a hospital. Regan, a Los Angeles native who moved to Sonoma County 29 years ago with her husband to raise a family, has been healthy and active all her life and loves the outdoors.
When she gave birth to her three children, each time she went home from the hospital within eight hours.
Two years ago as wildfires burned in Sonoma County, Regan was diagnosed with breast cancer. From November 2017 to March 2018, she received chemotherapy treatments, before having surgery a month later.
Her doctors closely assessed her attitude before surgery. She was largely positive about the operation so they knew she would rather go home in a few hours than be admitted to the hospital.
“They recommended that I do it,” Regan said. “After the surgery, I came home, made some dinner and some friends came over. I know that sounds weird. It wasn’t that horrible.”
Dr. Lisa Tito, a Santa Rosa surgeon specializing in breast surgery, said she started a similar outpatient initiative on a smaller scale eight years ago at Beth Israel Deaconess-Plymouth Hospital in Massachusetts.
Tito, now with St. Joseph Health Medical Group at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, said outpatient breast surgery guidelines need to ensure that patients are comfortable and safe at home and can care for their wounds. She said narcotics should be limited in favor of other pain treatments.
Tito said these days all of her breast surgery patients go home soon after the operation. For women who undergo breast reconstruction with an implant, one of the biggest complications is infection, she said.
“So if you’re going to get an infection, I’d rather have you get a bacteria from home than from the hospital,” Tito said.
The strongest argument for outpatient breast surgery is patients have the “psychosocial support of their family,” low complication rates and excellent pain control, she said.
Peralta, the Sutter surgeon, said the majority of her breast surgery patients spend less than 24 hours in the hospital, but 90% do stay overnight.
Woods, the Santa Rosa hairdresser, was diagnosed with breast cancer on Oct. 11, 2018. When she had her mastectomy on Nov. 29, she said Dr. Romero and others in her Kaiser breast care team knew she didn’t want to stay longer than necessary at the hospital.
“I never took narcotics. I never had really any pain,” she said.
Meanwhile, last week at her hair salon, Woods did a cut and color on her longtime friend and client, Cindy Jaque. “It’s good to be back at work,” she said. “My clients are my friends.”
Jaque was not surprised Woods has done so well since her surgery and cancer treatments.
“I have to tell you, her positive attitude is one of the best healing agents there is,” Jaque said.