A combined approach to breast surgery

Consultant plastic & reconstructive surgeon Mr Navid Jallali and consultant breast cancer & reconstructive surgeon Mrs Katy Hogben explain how our breast cancer patients are being offered immediate reconstructive surgery post mastectomy to support their emotional recovery from surgery

"According to the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), up to two thirds of breast cancer survivors have concerns over changes in body image.

Breast reconstruction improves psychosocial well-being when compared with mastectomy alone, which is why oncoplastic breast surgery – where breast cancer tumor removal and reconstructive surgery techniques to maintain or replace the breast shape are combined – is offered to all women who require a mastectomy, where appropriate, as per national guidelines. 

Patients across the UK are offered both immediate and delayed reconstructive surgery, but not all hospitals perform immediate surgery. At Imperial Private Healthcare we offer our patients an immediate breast reconstruction service, using specialised techniques that boost emotional recovery. 

The benefits of immediate breast reconstruction include less scarring, a better cosmetic outcome, and immediate psychological gratification and benefit. On top of this there is the convenience of having one hospital admission unlike in delayed reconstruction surgery. Many of the women we treat have work and sometimes children to think about, and immediate surgery is much more appealing. 

The drive for me is to turn a negative experience into a positive one. A cancer diagnosis is difficult enough without having the added change to your appearance, so it’s our job to ensure our patients aren’t physically scarred by cancer surgery. 

The best thing for me is when a patient tells me they feel far better than they imagined they would.” 

Ms Katy Hogben 

“Unlike some units across the country, our plastics unit offers an operation called ‘autologous reconstruction’. This procedure uses the patient’s tissue to reconstruct the breast and the advantage of this is, unlike implants, it is essentially permanent. 

We have been offering autologous reconstruction here for over 15 years, and we are one of the biggest reconstructive units in the country. We have a large group of expert surgeons and we benefit from being attached to an NHS organisation as it means we do two or three of these surgeries a week across the board. This equals a huge amount of experience – a solely private institute would do far less. 

I became a surgeon because I’m a very dexterous and manual person so it suited me well. But I specialise in breast surgery because I really admire the way women deal with health issues, and I find the role incredibly rewarding. This surgery makes a big difference to people’s lives and it’s great to be a part of it.” 

What to expect 

  • Autologous reconstruction surgery involves surgeons from both the oncology and plastics departments 
  • All patients will receive support from specialist nurses throughout their journey at Imperial 
  • The procedure can take four to six hours to complete – depending on how small and delicate the blood vessels are. A small follow up procedure may be required to make minor cosmetic adjustments
  • Patient recovery is around four to seven days in hospital, with normal levels of day to day activity expected upon discharge
  • Regular follow ups take place with both the oncology and plastic surgery departments to support emotional and physical recovery 

To find out more about our breast cancer service, visit our breast cancer pages. Alternatively, contact our referrals team on 020 3311 7700 or email imperial.private.healthcare@nhs.net.

Prior to October 2023, Imperial College Healthcare Private Care was known as Imperial Private Healthcare.