The Scarborough Hospital (TSH) is offering a service not many people are aware of, especially women.
The community hospital is offering breast reconstruction surgery for women who have undergone a mastectomy.
Dr. Sarah Wong, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at TSH, and her colleagues Dr. Timothy Sproule and Dr. Narayanan Nandagopal, decided to offer the service to help shorten wait times for patients wishing to have the surgery.
“We’re the only community hospital that started to offer to do [breast reconstruction] because of the long wait,” Wong said.
Many women who have undergone a mastectomy are not aware that reconstruction is offered as part of their treatment.
“Only 20 per cent of women in Canada are going through reconstruction and what we figured out is that women just don’t know,” Wong said. “Not only do you have to find the information, but you have to find someone that actually does it. And when you actually do, it’s a long waiting list.”
Breast reconstruction surgery can be done in two ways. Patients can either choose to have implants or use their own tissue as an alternative.
“Implants are a lot faster and you can get them done fairly quickly,” Wong said. “The one where you use your own tissue is a lot harder. Not as many people are trained in doing it and it takes a little bit longer for recovery.”
The surgery often takes about eight hours, but at TSH it can be done in four.
“Because we all work together and there are three fully trained plastic surgeons operating at the same time … we end up cutting the time in half,” Wong said, “which is better for the patient because you don’t get as much anaesthetic and the recovery is so much better.”
TSH wants to raise awareness in the community. The hospital hosts an annual Breast Reconstrution Awareness (BRA) day in October to hold information sessions.
In 2012, the event had a positive turnout with Asian and Tamil television networks covering it. The event was offered in three languages: English, Tamil and Chinese.
“The push for Scarborough was to try and make it multicultural to reflect our racial diversity,” Wong said. “What was fascinating was a lot of people stayed for all of it. That was what surprised me.”
TSH is planning to have quarterly sessions so patients have information “available to them all year round, and not just that one month.”
The assistance that TSH offers does not only make the hospital different but it attracts patients from all walks of life and various cultures.
“I can definitely tell in our community, patients appreciate having the option of doing the surgery closer to home,” Wong said.