Dr. Simmons is very interested exploring new ways to improve the cosmetic appearance of patients who need breast cancer surgery. Obviously the most important goal is to cure the breast cancer but how the patient looks after the surgical treatment has a significant impact on her ability to resume her normal life. Because of the concern to maintain optimal cosmetic results, Dr. Simmons has done extensive research in ways to provide minimally invasive and cosmetically advantageous surgery to her patients.
She is a pioneer in the area of skin sparing mastectomy in which she has the largest published series in the New York Metropolitan Area. Dr. Simmons is well known as having invented the Skin and Areola Sparing Mastectomy Operation. The Areola Sparing Mastectomy allows removal of the cancerous breast and nipple and assessment of the lymph nodes by sentinel node biopsy through a small incision within the areola itself. So all of the skin of the breast and the areola are maintained. After immediate reconstruction of the patients breast and nipple the appearance is very natural, such that in many patients it is difficult to tell she underwent any surgery at all. Dr. Simmons states that she always finds it a complement when her patients other doctors have to ask during examination which breast had the mastectomy?
Dr. Simmons has also made significant contributions to the development of the sentinel lymph node biopsy technique. She was the first to use a blue dye called methylene blue that has been found to be equally accurate and a safer alternative to the lymphazurine blue dye that had been used earlier. Because of her recommendations, the use of this safer blue dye has changed the practice of many surgeons around the country.
She is the first surgeon in the New York Metropolitan Area to evaluate the use of laser and freezing to destroy both benign breast tumors and breast cancers. Because of her research this technology has become an accepted option for the treatment of benign tumors called fibroadenomas. Her research on this type of ablative therapy as a treatment for breast cancer is being evaluated in a national multicenter trial. This is expected to create a new age for the treatment of breast cancers without surgery in the near future.