News Walthamstow

First Whipps patient to receive new surgery feels ‘so lucky’

A new procedure can leave breast cancer patients with no sign they’ve had surgery
By Waltham Forest Echo

Tara from Walthamstow received the first
Tara from Walthamstow received the first “perforator flap” in February (credit: Barts)

The first Whipps Cross patient to receive a new procedure for breast cancer says she feels “so lucky” after it “worked wonders” for her. 

Tara, a Walthamstow resident, was referred to Whipps Cross by her GP, after finding a lump in her breast last June.

She was eligible to be the first patient to receive a new form of surgery introduced this year and known as a “perforator flap”, intended to reduce the need for mastectomies.

The procedure uses skin and fat from beneath or the side of the breast to fill the gap left by the tumour and can leave the breast looking entirely unchanged, while also reducing the likelihood of post-surgery complications.

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Dr Shweta Aggarwal and her team (credit: Barts Health)

Dr Shweta Aggarwal, who performed Tara’s surgery in February, told the Echo: “A big advantage is that, for the right patient, you can’t make out the difference in the breast pre and post-surgery.

“The patient would still have a scar but they have exactly the same shape of the breast as they had before and the scar can be hidden under the breast in some procedures.”

Dr Aggarwal explained that, previously, the cavity left by the removal of a tumour would fill with fluid, which creates scarring when it is reabsorbed by the body and can even move the nipple.

However, she notes that not all patients are suitable for the procedure, depending on the size of their tumour compared to their breast. 

Tara told the Echo: “The operation worked wonders for me, it was a bit painful, but I was happy to have this option.

“I feel so lucky because I didn’t have to lose my breast. You can’t really see the scar that was left after the procedure either.”

So far, six Whipps patients have had the new procedure, which the hospital hopes to use more widely from now on.

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