SPECIALIST breast and plastic surgeon Dr Ellis Choy, has had a particular interest in working with breast cancer patients for more than 10 years.
Dr Choy has been visiting Coffs Harbour on a monthly basis for more than six years and much of his work in Coffs Harbour has related to breast reconstruction for women who have had surgery for breast cancer.
He said it was important for women undertaking breast cancer treatment to be reassured that they would receive first-class care locally in Coffs Harbour.
"I realised there was a need - that it was not just about cutting the cancer out. It is about cure and it is also about care.”
Dr Choy said he began focusing on breast and skin oncology and reconstructive surgery while he was undertaking postgraduate studies at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, after graduating from Sydney University in 1997.
In 2004, Dr Choy completed sub-specialty training in both breast surgery (at the Sydney Breast Cancer Institute) and surgical oncology (at the Sydney Melanoma Unit, now known as the Melanoma Unit Australia) and gained his first fellowship with the Royal Australian College of Surgeons.
He undertook advanced surgical training and was awarded a National Breast Cancer Foundation scholarship for his 2005 Master of Surgery thesis on patient preferences in multi-disciplinary breast care.
His thesis examined the standard of multi- disciplinary care in breast cancer treatment, which involved assessment by a group of specialists, including surgeons and radiologists.
Dr Choy said not every former breast cancer patient was suitable for reconstructive surgery and it was his job to assist them in making the right choice and then to guide them through what was a multi-stage process.
"It is all about technique and timing,” he said.
Some women who have discovered they have genetic markers for breast cancer are choosing to have preventive surgery and to have their breasts removed in case they develop cancer at a later stage.
"Each patient needs a treatment option best suited to them and at the end of the day, it is not about me, it is about my patient,” Dr Choy said.
He holds dual Royal Australian College of Surgeons Fellowships, in general surgery, with a focus on breast and skin oncology and in plastic surgery, with a focus on breast, body and face work.
Dr Choy carries out a full range of plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures at Coffs Harbour's Baringa Private Hospital, as well as operating at a number of private Sydney hospitals, and he has a specialist nurse to tend to local patients between his visits to Coffs Harbour.
Dr Choy said successful plastic surgery required both artistic and surgical skills, combined with the latest medical technologies and techniques, and it was vital in his role as a plastic surgeon to have a deep and empathetic understanding of his patients.
"It is important to explore why they want to have this surgery in the first place,” he said.
Dr Choy is a member of a number of national and international surgical organisations and has an appointment at Sydney's Concord Hospital and sees patients at Coffs Harbour Surgical in Albany St, on a monthly basis.