Division in the Media

Implants Help Rebuild Femininity After Breast Cancer

Dr. Toni Zhong was quoted recently in a MACLEAN’S article on breast reconstruction with the use of implants.

The 52-year-old bookkeeper based in Aurora, Ontario, underwent chemotherapy and radiation, then a bilateral mastectomy eight years after her initial treatment. The decision to have that surgery was a difficult one.

“I knew it was the right thing to do,” says Salmond. “I didn’t want to live with the stress that came with regular screenings and the possibility that my cancer would return.” Prophylactic removal of her breasts was easier because she could undergo breast reconstruction. “I’m happy with my implants. I feel better than I did before. It’s like turning back the clock. I’ll be perky until I’m 90,” she laughs.

Then, in one of those tragic twists in life, her daughter Kelly, age 32, was also diagnosed with breast cancer last year, 14 years after her mother’s battle with the disease. But, amid the uncertainty, Kelly found ample support and inspiration in her mother’s journey. “I’ve been able to get through this experience because there is a familiarity to it from seeing what my mom has gone through,” Kelly says.

“I want to go back to looking and feeling like the self that I’ve always known and getting implants through reconstruction is a big part of that.”

When she is done her treatment, she will follow the same path as her mother. She’ll also receive breast reconstruction, an important step for both, says Kelly. “I want to go back to looking and feeling like the self that I’ve always known and getting implants through reconstruction is a big part of that.”

As a plastic surgeon and Clinical and Research Director for the UHN Breast Reconstruction Program, Dr. Toni Zhong has spent almost a decade helping patients like Kelly and Kathleen to move forward with their lives after cancer. “Breast reconstruction helps patients with their psychological recovery,” she says. “It’s important as a means to preserve a patient’s sense of femininity and wellness.”

Implants used in the procedure have improved by leaps and bounds. The first and second generation implants of the 1980s were problematic. They leaked, caused health problems, and were very limited in size and shape. Fast forward to 2016. The advancements have been impressive. New versions of implants feature tough, leak-proof outer shells, and come in a wide range of more natural-looking shapes customized for the needs of each patient.

In the last five years, doctors have also gained a better understanding of breast reconstruction and how it plays a role in breast cancer prevention and treatment. Studies show that implants do not interfere with mammograms or cancer treatment. “This is excellent news,” says Dr. Zhong. “And, patients now have the option of having breast reconstruction at the same time as a mastectomy — one surgery instead of two with less recovery time.”

Even after their treatment for breast cancer is over, Kathleen says that women, like her daughter, should consider reconstruction as a viable option in their treatment plan. “It’s never too late,” she says. “I did a lot of research about the procedure. I’m very happy with my decision. I have no regrets whatsoever.”

Toronto surgeons treat burn victims on remote Bangladesh island

Our own Dr. Toni Zhong led the medical team from Toronto on a mission to help a group of women in Bangladesh who are shunned because of serious burns.

As members of a German-based charity, Women for Women, Zhong and her fellow plastic surgeons trade their big-city careers once or twice a year to volunteer in countries like Bangladesh.

Dr. Toni Zhong (centre), Sabnam Mahmuda (left), a translator and researcher, and Antje Hube, an anesthesiologist from Germany, take advantage of a rare moment outside of the operating room, as a trail of children follow their every move.

Dr. Toni Zhong (centre), Sabnam Mahmuda (left), a translator and researcher, and Antje Hube, an anesthesiologist from Germany, take advantage of a rare moment outside of the operating room, as a trail of children follow their every move.

What’s Going On: January 2016

Hot and not even off the press, yet!
The official launch of the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Science and Technology, or iBest, the new joint venture with Ryerson and St. Michael’s Hospital was held on Monday January 24th, 2016 and featured our own Dr. Karen Cross and her research team as well as SSTP trainee, Dr. Dale Podolsky! Great coverage in the Globe and Mail.


Dale got to show off his cleft palate simulator to the large crowd of dignitaries as only one of the five groups chosen to present. Check out the article!



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Team of Toronto Doctors Performs Canada’s First Successful Hand and Forearm Transplant

Congratulations to Dr. Steve McCabe and his team of 18 surgeons who performed the first upper extremity transplant last week at Toronto Western Hospital.

Dr. McCabe was one of the original group of surgeons in Louisville who performed the first hand transplant in 1999 so there is an interesting symmetry to this story. Steve returned to Canada in 2012 take Directorship of the Hand Unit at the University Health Network.

Dr. McCabe preparing for the surgery

The moment the circulation is re-established in the transplanted hand

This was an amazing feat of planning and many months to years in the making and represents a terrific team effort. While the surgical team comprised surgeons from the Hand Unit at Toronto Western, Toronto General Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children, there was a remarkable collaborative effort involving the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the Trillium Gift of Life, Transplantation Service from UHN, UHN Administration and the Ministry of Long Term Health and Care. Congratulations to all involved!





Great work and a lot to be proud of!


Christopher R. Forrest, MD, MSc, FRCSC, FACS
Chief, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, The Hospital for Sick Children
Medical Director, HSC Centre for Craniofacial Care and Research
Chair and Professor, Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine
University of Toronto

How Doctors Saved a Girl’s Life – and Her Limb (Drs. Greg Borschel and Kristen Davidge)

Check out the great success story of young Augusta with our own Drs. Greg Borschel and Kristen Davidge. Great example of innovation and surgical teamwork!