Improved Breast Reconstruction

Tuesday, 21 May, 2019

Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Dr Nadeem Ajmal, joined the staff of Beaumont Hospital in 2006 and was the first Plastic Surgeon in Ireland to perform DIEP Flap Reconstruction for breast cancer patients. This microsurgical procedure, performed following mastectomy, takes living tissue and skin from the abdominal
area and reconnects it in the chest to create a new breast or breasts.

Dr Ajmal recalls, "For the first few years we were the only surgical centre in Ireland offering DIEP Reconstruction to women with breast cancer. Although it is now available in other major cancer treatment centres, we still get referrals for the complicated cases from all over the country. We perform immediate and delayed reconstruction. As we are not a Breast Check Centre that picks up early stage cancers, most of our patients disease is more advanced and will need radiotherapy and chemotherapy. As a result, the majority of the surgeries we perform are delayed reconstructions”.

"Breast reconstruction is an integral part of the treatment of breast cancer. In general, Ireland has a very low take up of immediate reconstruction post breast cancer surgery compared to international standards. It works best in patients with early stage cancer or those who elect for a bilateral risk reducing mastectomy. And while there is no optimum time in which a patient should have reconstructive surgery, the results we can achieve doing immediate reconstruction are way better than in
secondary reconstruction. Women need to know their options for breast as soon as possible in their treatment regime".

"Every woman who is undergoing a mastectomy should be advised of the options for breast reconstruction prior to surgery. If they can't have an immediate surgery for medical reasons, they can always have it at a later stage. But the results we can achieve doing immediate reconstruction are way better than in secondary reconstruction and women need to know this as soon as possible in their treatment regime".

For several years now, Dr Ajmal has been looking to set up a combined clinic for breast surgery and breast reconstruction so that patients could benefit from the combined consultation of the breast and plastic surgeon at one appointment. He says, "This is impossible to achieve within the current scheduling structure of the outpatients clinics in Beaumont Hospital". But with the realisation of the new breast clinic building, he hopes that patients will finally have this access to an improved level of care with surgeons working both to eradicate the cancer and to prepare the pathway for the ensuing reconstruction.

In conclusion, he says, "There are various reconstruction options available for breast cancer and each solution is individualised to the patient based on their medical history and personal circumstances. I look forward to being able to translate the great advantages this new clinic will bring to my patients when it opens in 2020".

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