For Leading YRMC Breast Surgeon, It’s All About the Patient
Juliann Reiland, MD, FACS, recently joined Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) PhysicianCare Breast Surgery. Dr. Reiland is a nationally acclaimed breast surgeon and a pioneer in oncoplastic breast surgery, an innovative procedure currently performed by only 10 percent of breast surgeons in the United States.
Juliann Reiland, MD, FACS, remembers the moment she discovered her first medical specialty – general and trauma surgery – at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine. She was a third-year medical student on a surgical rotation when a patient who needed emergency surgery was rushed in.
“There was activity everywhere. Truly organized chaos,” said Dr. Reiland. “People were hurrying in and out of the OR, getting supplies, rolling in equipment.”
In the eye of this storm two surgeons calmly worked to save the patient’s life.
“It was intense and I was hooked.”
When Your Calling Finds You
Rather than a lightning-bolt experience, Dr. Reiland was steadily nudged toward breast surgery as a specialty. She was the only female partner in a general/trauma surgery practice in South Dakota and the popular choice for women experiencing breast issues. Over time, Dr. Reiland discovered that caring for women diagnosed with breast cancer “filled her cup” as no other work could.
“I realized that when you care for women diagnosed with breast cancer, you get to know them, you get to know their families,” she said. “Working with these wonderful women allows me to have a personal relationship that extends beyond the surgery.”
This is a perfect fit for Dr. Reiland and no doubt for her patients as well. During consultations with newly diagnosed patients, Dr. Reiland calms their fears with a combination of confidence, empathy, and information. Dr. Reiland’s positive energy and relatable busy life – she raised four children while juggling medical school, residency and her career – also builds bonds with her patients. Consultations typically end with a relieved woman smiling and saying, “I feel so much better.”
“These are women in crisis,” said Dr. Reiland. “I have the opportunity to put their diagnosis in perspective and give them hope. Because the truth is that if breast cancer is found in the early stages, the survival rate is 98 percent.”
A Pioneering Breast Surgeon
Dr. Reiland is regarded as a pioneer of oncoplastic breast surgery in the United States. She was among the first breast surgeons to perform the procedure after it made its way to the U.S. in 2008. She has even worked with Werner Audretsch, MD, the surgeon from Germany who developed oncoplastic breast surgery.
“I was often asked, ‘Why South Dakota?’ My response is there’s so much you can get done in a smaller community that’s just harder to accomplish in a big, urban area.”
What happens during oncoplastic breast surgery? Dr. Reiland performs a lumpectomy, removing the breast cancer and leaving a rim of healthy tissue around it. Instead of making an incision anywhere on the breast, which leaves an obvious scar, she uses the same technique plastic surgeons use during a breast lift or a breast reduction. Removing the breast cancer in this way allows Dr. Reiland to repair the area around the lumpectomy and tighten up the skin, giving the breast an “upright or perky” appearance.
“I use oncoplastic techniques with my surgeries because it’s the best way to surgically remove the cancer. It restores women to better health both physically and emotionally,” she explained. “It’s the approach I would want the surgeon operating on me, my sister, or my mother to use.”
Setting Surgical Standards
In addition to her work at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC), Dr. Reiland is the chair of the oncoplastic surgery committee for the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBrS). Her committee is responsible for developing and teaching oncoplastic skills courses to surgeons in the U.S. and abroad. The committee is also creating surgical standards for oncoplastic breast surgery to encourage all surgeons to use these techniques. A recent course led by Dr. Reiland in Chicago included 35 surgeons, five of whom were from outside of the U.S.
While making a difference on her profession is rewarding, Dr. Reiland is most fulfilled by the individual lives she touches and improves.
“When I see a patient for her surgical follow-up visit, she’s relieved, happy and feels good about her appearance. It’s the most gratifying part of my work. These women make me feel like I am doing what I was meant to do.”
For more information about YRMC PhysicianCare Breast Surgery in Prescott Valley, visit YRMC.org/PhysicianCare or contact 928.442.8740.