Once you are told that you need surgery for breast cancer, you may be faced with the choices of removing part of the breast (lumpectomy) or the entire breast (mastectomy) and whether or not to rebuild the shape of your breast by reconstruction. Breast reconstruction can be done in many ways using various methods – following either a lumpectomy or mastectomy.

In this month #AskTheExpert, find out more about the different techniques available, considerations involved and the recovery process after reconstruction. Most importantly, you can ask questions and find out if Breast Reconstruction is suitable for you or your loved one as an individual.

Join Consultant Breast and General Surgeon, Dr Esther Chuwa from Esther Chuwa BreastCare Practice in Gleneagles Hospital for a discussion on this issue of #AskTheExpert.

Date: 24/10/2013 (Thursday)
Time: 4:30pm – 5:00pm
Venue: Online @ Facebook event wall

PCC #AskTheExpert Live Chat allows you to interact with our doctor on any medical questions that is subjected to the specialty chosen for the month. You can browse through previously answered medical questions for reference as we have over 60 questions answered to date.

Dr Esther Chuwa has devoted her general surgical practice to the management and research of breast diseases since 2006. Having completed visiting stints and observerships at breast and reconstruction units around the world she ranks among few local breast surgeons to have received formal training in oncoplastic breast surgery. Her other specializations include minimally invasive breast biopsy techniques and localization and excision of non-palpable breast tumours.

Dr Chuwa is actively involved in promoting breast cancer awareness through public outreach initiatives and also sits on the Womens Health Advisory committee.

Recap for #ASK THE EXPERT Session (24 October 2013) with Dr Esther Chuwa – Breast Reconstruction: Is it for You?

Q1. When can one exercise after reconstruction?

Dr Esther: Depending on the type of recon done, generally light exercises may be started 1 month after


Q2. Will one still be able to breastfeed after going through a mastectomy?

Dr Esther: No, you will not be able to breastfeed on the side of mastectomy since the brest tissue has been removed but you may still be able to breastfeed on the other side


Q3. Angelina Jolie has had both of her breasts removed as a proactive measure to prevent breast cancer. Is that the only way to prevent cancer in her case?

Dr Esther: No, it’s not the only way. The other way to prevent breast cancer is to take drugs. Or you may choose to be monitored closely with regular tests but doing regular tests will not “prevent” the onset of cancer but detect it at an early stage. So there are essentially 2 ways of “preventing” breast cancer: by surgery i.e. removing the breasts before cancer strikes or by taking a drug to lower the chances of cancer occurring. Surgery is more effective


Q4. What are some ways to help somebody deal with breast cancer?

Dr Esther: Listen. Provide emotional support. Lead her to a good doctor who can provide information on treatment methods so she may be guided through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Link her up with Breast Cancer Foundation who has many experienced counsellors to help her deal with each stage of the journey


Q5. Dear doctor, may I know the estimated cost for breast reconstruction for both sides, by doing as implant reconstruction or as Autologous reconstruction? I’ve done bilateral mastectomy, doctor. I just want to do reconstruction only.  Thanks in advance.

Dr Esther: That will be between $20-50K depending on the type of reconstruction


Q6. Is age a factor to consider and will it pose a risk to breast reconstruction?

Dr Esther: Yes advanced age is a risk factor especially if you also have other medical illnesses that are more common in old age e.g. heart disease, etc. This is because reconstruction can potentially be a long surgery and poses a risk to the body systems