Read stories from people who have had reconstruction.

Patient Videos

Watch stories from people who have had reconstruction.


Helping patients living abroad who wish to be treated at our hospital.

Our Patient Stories

Patient of Dr. Zhong

“I am married with three children and when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40, I could not even begin to think about or consider breast reconstruction. My singular thought was to remove the cancer as quickly as possible.

The doctors at the UHN hospital, Dr. Easson and Dr. Zhong were very supportive of my decision and answered all of my questions and concerns. They helped me decide to only remove my left breast that had the tumor and to wait to decide about a prophylactic mastectomy (which I wanted) on the right hand side.
I do not carry the BRCA gene mutations, but after my single mastectomy, with the help of my doctors, I decided to have my other breast removed and have immediate reconstruction on that side and delayed reconstruction on my left side.

When I met with Dr. Zhong for the first time, I was completely surprised when she suggested that I keep my one nipple – the side where there was no cancer – called Nipple Save to later share it with my other breast where the nipple was removed during the mastectomy. Again, my number one concern was the risk involved. I had already prepared myself for having no nipples like most women who have been through a double mastectomy. But Dr. Zhong and her staff introduced me to the program Nipple Save where the nipple is biopsied prior to surgery to ensure there is no cancer. And then she told me the result would look great.

The next steps were for me to have expanders and then the exchange surgery for the final implants. It was a long process but offered the best results given my case. Dr. Zhong was extremely supportive through the process and answered every question I had.
In the end, even though it took a long time and there were many procedures and surgeries, the results are beyond belief. And, even though during this time of my life, my last concern was how I looked in the mirror or clothes, Dr. Zhong was right. The procedures and surgeries she recommended and later performed resulted in exactly what she promised and were miraculous. To this day – I still find it unbelievable how she was able to do to restore body image.

Dr. Zhong is the most patient, professional, knowledgeable and talented plastic surgeon I have ever met. She took the time to answer every one of the million questions I asked at every appointment. Her staff was incredibly responsive and informative including Agnes, Sandy and Camille. She is a perfectionist and is extremely cautious and conservative in terms of risk and care. She is a one of kind person and doctor. I owe her so much for all she has done for me. And, I feel lucky to have been referred to her for my reconstruction surgeries. Thank you so much.”

-Patient is from Toronto, Ontario. Date of surgery: June 2018

Patient of Dr. Hofer

“When I was diagnosed I was in total shock. I had my yearly mammogram at Sunnybrook Hospital about 6 weeks before and subsequently received the “congratulations, all clear” letter! Shortly after receiving this letter, my left nipple started to discharge fluid. Several other tests were done, all showed clear! A nipple biopsy showed a benign pappiloma but underneath they found breast cancer. No clean margins so more surgery was required. Due to my family history I opted for double mastectomy with reconstruction. A plastic surgeon joined my surgeon to place tissue expanders. After this surgery I was advised that the plastic surgeon was now in charge of my case.

About 10 days after the above surgery my health issues started. They never ended, became worse over time and lasted for well over a year (until I met Dr Hofer). Just so you know, before all this I was very healthy and in great condition and leading a very healthy lifestyle! All my (at times) severe health issues were checked by different specialists in different hospitals confirmed with tests. The issues involved my whole body; inside and outside! Although the plastic surgeon did send me to other specialists, no matter what their treatment was, NOTHING worked. Over that year I had been given so many antibiotics amongst other medication that my bowels went haywire. I was desperate and begged the plastic surgeon to send me for a second opinion.

During this time, I had gone on the internet to do research myself. I found a website that was for women with breast cancer looking into reconstruction, mainly the Diep procedure. This is a closed website where everything is discussed and shown among the members. From this website I found out that the best Diep plastic surgeon was right here in Toronto at UHN, Dr Stefan Hofer! My request for a second opinion was with Dr Hofer. While I waited for my appointment I met with several patients of Dr Hofer. Every one of these patients was thrilled with Dr Hofer and his team! Reading up on Dr Hofer, I found out that not only was he the top surgeon, he also offered training to other plastic surgeons in the micro vascular techniques required for Diep surgeries. On top of his very busy schedule, he was also involved in fund raising for breast cancer (Enbridge ride to conquer cancer) as well as a participant in the Canadian Breast Cancer “Bra Day”.

I was so incredibly lucky to be accepted by Dr Hofer as his patient. What an outstanding, wonderful, talented and humble surgeon and person he is! He immediately diagnosed my health issues as related to the tissue expanders. They were removed by Dr Hofer 10 days later. The surgery report confirmed my suspicions about the tissue expanders which I had mentioned on several occasions to the previous plastic surgeon who denied each time that there would a connection between the tissue expanders and all my health issues! About 6 weeks later I had my double Diep reconstruction by Dr Hofer and Dr Chris Ahn. This is now 3 1/2 months ago. There are not enough words to describe how happy I am. All my health issues are gone, the healing process went extremely well, no issues or complications. Thank you Dr Hofer, Dr Chris Ahn and all others that assisted during my surgeries!!!”


Patient of Dr. O’Neill

“I had a DIEP flap surgical reconstruction of the left breast on September 19, 2014, followed by a recent nipple reconstruction. I’m privileged to have been the patient of Dr. Anne O’Neill who performed my surgeries. I’m extremely pleased with the results.
Throughout the process, Dr. O’Neill has always been attentive, kind and respectful. Her staff, particularly her Administrative Assistant Mary, has been genuine, responsive and highly professional.
I personally think that Dr. O’Neill is an artist. Her talent has allowed me to get my body back and for this, I will be forever grateful.”

-Patient is from Toronto, Ontario. Date of surgery: September 2014

Patient of Dr. Haykal

“In April 2018, my husband and I met with Dr. Haykal to discuss having a DIEP surgery, following a mastectomy due to breast cancer. Immediately, we were extremely impressed with both Dr. Haykal and her team. They walked us through a very detailed and informative presentation on exactly what was involved in the procedure. Agnes, her nurse practitioner was able to patiently answer all of the questions we had. Dr. Haykal was the third surgeon we had met with and we knew immediately that she was the one to choose. In June, I had an immediate mastectomy on my remaining breast and the DIEP surgery to reconstruct both sides. While certainly not an easy surgery to go through, I was well prepared, and everything went extremely well. My expectations were well managed throughout the whole process. During all follow up appointments, my progress was well monitored, and I felt truly supported by all of the team. During my recovery, they were readily available to answer any questions or concerns we had. Most importantly, it’s now been 9 months since my surgery and I’m very pleased with the results and feel very good about my choice of surgery and surgeon. I would highly recommend Dr. Haykal to anyone considering this surgery for her extreme competence and also for her kind and caring manner.”

-Patient is from Burlington, Ontario. Date of surgery: June 2018


Video Stories

Patient Stories: Breast Reconstruction Patient

International Patient Program

The International Patient Program (IPP)

The International Patient Program (IPP) helps UHN to achieve its vision of global impact by assisting patients living abroad who wish to be treated at our hospital. The IPP provides a central office through which international patient inquiries are processed. Our team of highly skilled and trained Referral Specialists support elective international patients and their families or representatives throughout the application process. As your point of contact, the IPP will provide expert patientcentred approaches to facilitating your care in an easy and seamless manner.


The plastic surgeons at the UHN Breast Reconstruction program have provided breast reconstruction to patients from Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean Islands. They are internationally renowned for providing the most advanced microsurgical breast reconstruction techniques using patient’s own tissues. Patients who would otherwise not have access to such advanced techniques have travelled to UHN to seek consultations and surgery with our team of internationally reputed plastics surgeons.


All elective international patients applying for treatment are required to complete an application package. All applications are screened by a medical professional to determine if care can be provided to the patient at UHN.


For more information on how elective international patients can apply for care at UHN, please click here


If you are a physician outside of Canada who is referring his or her patient to UHN for treatment, please click here