Dr. Rachel Scott joined the Hendricks Regional Health team in July 2015, but she’s been familiar with Hendricks since she was a little girl. Growing up just a half hour away, this was her hometown hospital. “I think it’s really exciting how much Hendricks has developed since I was a kid. I went from thinking of it as a band-aid station, and now here I am as a plastic surgeon. It’s a service I never would have thought would be offered when I was growing up.”
As a full-time plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Scott is used to wearing many hats on a regular basis. Whatever the day may bring, she remains sharp, compassionate and 100% dedicated to making a positive impact on her patients.
“I’m seeing patients a lot of times at a very difficult point in their lives. Certainly, I have not been through everything each of my patients has gone through. However, having been a patient myself before and being able to empathize with them, I hope to really see what makes them tick and how I can contribute to making their journey a little bit better.”
Defining her role as a plastic surgeon
“Plastic surgeons do everything, or at least I do,” Dr. Scott explains. At Hendricks Regional Health Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, she performs cosmetic surgeries—such as liposuction and breast augmentation—hand and facial surgeries, and reconstruction for various cancers, including breast cancer.
Scope is key to understanding the chameleon-like role of a plastic surgeon: “I think it’s an exciting field because of the breadth of patient care I’m able to deliver. Every patient is going to teach me something different and allow me to practice my skills in a different way.”
Whether repairing damage from a fracture or injury, or performing a reconstruction, Dr. Scott fills a unique niche for her patients. “Plastic surgeons treat patients literally from head to toe, so I’m going to provide something really unique for each of my patients,” she says. “There might be a man who comes in with a deep finger laceration from a saw injury, a child with a congenital goose egg growing on his or her forehead, or a woman who’s had four children and looks in the mirror and says, ‘My abdomen just doesn’t really look how I want it to.’ Regardless of their reason, my goal is to help them enrich their life and make it better than before they met me.”
Helping her patients regain confidence
For Dr. Scott, being a plastic surgeon means having the power to impact a patient on a very personal level. Though their reason for surgery may differ, the hope and comfort she provides to her patients remains constant: “My patients are of course my patients, but they’re also my friends. I try to be as real, honest and upfront as I would be with a friend. I want to help them live their best life.”
Dr. Scott stayed true this when she performed a Full Abdominoplasty on her patient, LeAnne. She removed 11 pounds of skin from LeAnne’s stomach following her massive weight loss. The surgery made it possible for LeAnne to pursue her dreams of participating in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. “When I told Dr. Scott that I ran the Mini, she was so proud of my accomplishment,” LeAnne recalls. “She truly understands that for patients like me, plastic surgery isn’t cosmetic. It was an evolution of me as a person, someone who had transformed how she looks at herself and the world.”
In addition to LeAnne, Dr. Scott helped Erin, an active mom who struggled with her body after two pregnancies, by performing a breast lift and augmentation, arm lift and full tummy tuck. “Dr. Scott helped tighten everything up, so I can say ‘goodbye batwings,’ and now I’m loving tank tops!” Erin says. “It’s amazing how little changes can help you feel even more confident than you did before!”
With all of her patients, Dr. Scott builds a special bond: “I like to really get to know my patients quite a bit,” she says. “I know what most of them did last weekend, and I think that’s what’s cool about the opportunities I have as a plastic surgeon—to not necessarily see them during emergency surgery like a lot of other surgeons might have to.”
Transforming collaborative breast cancer care
Dr. Scott works closely with the breast surgical oncologists at the Hendricks Regional Health Breast Center, Drs. Monet Bowling and Anne Mattingly, along with cancer risk and genetic experts like Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Pierle, radiologists, dieticians, social workers and physical therapists. Together, they collaborate to develop an optimal plan of surgical care for breast cancer patients.
“It’s very exciting, and we’re very lucky to be able to work together as a breast reconstructive and breast surgical team,” Dr. Scott says. “Drs. Bowling and Mattingly are both outstanding ladies, great surgeons, and we’re good friends. I think that makes our team really special in terms of the dynamics behind the scenes that influence the best outcome for our patients.”
Dr. Scott’s patient, Debbie, benefited from this unique collaboration firsthand, when after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation, she underwent a prophylactic double mastectomy to minimize her breast cancer risk. Debbie then chose to have breast reconstruction. “Dr. Scott is so patient. She never hurries you and has a very pleasant personality,” Debbie says. “She takes endless amounts of time to answer each and every question I have.”
Last spring, Drs. Scott and Mattingly in tandem to perform a bilateral double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery on Natalie, an occupational nurse who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 39. As Natalie recalls, “Dr. Scott told me, ‘We are going to have an ongoing relationship where we talk everything through. If you don’t like how something looks or feels, we will work on it.’”
Making a lasting impact
When it comes to her philosophy of care, Dr. Scott’s approach is straightforward, relatable and powerful: “Whether it’s someone seeking breast reconstruction after a cancer diagnosis, or someone seeking pain relief from having large breasts and needing a breast reduction — everyone that I see I hope I’ve helped in some way. That goes for you, that goes for me and that goes for all of my patients. I want us all to do well and be happy.”
Simply put, she’s inspiring confidence one surgery at a time.