Suzanne Inchauste, MD
Suzanne Inchauste, MD
Plastic Surgery · Seattle, WA

Reconstructive Breast Microsurgery Training

May 27th
Hue, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam

Project Description

ReSurge International is a global nonprofit with a mission to train, fund, and scale reconstructive surgical teams in low-income countries to provide life-changing care to patients with the greatest need. We intend to travel to Hue, Vietnam to collaborate with local reconstructive surgeons and healthcare professionals to further develop their breast microsurgery program. In low-resource regions, breast reconstruction following breast cancer is not routinely offered. Furthermore, microsurgical reconstruction, which offers patients the opportunity to have breast restoration using their own tissue instead of an implant, is seldom offered due to the high degree of technical skill required.

ReSurge has partnered with Hue for over a decade, and helped them initiate their microsurgical breast reconstruction practice in 2018 (year). However, given limited resources and training opportunities in the region, local surgeons have indicated that additional training trips would be beneficial for continued learning. I, Dr. Suzanne Inchauste, an assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Washington, am an expert in microsurgical breast reconstruction and has served as an educator on multiple ReSurge microsurgery training trips.

On this trip, I, Dr. Suzanne Inchauste, will be leading workshops, lectures, and practical demonstrations for local surgeons and trainees, as well as a cohort of visiting surgeons from low-resource nations. Throughout the week, I will assist the local Vietnamese team in performing microsurgical breast reconstruction on several patients, allowing for an invaluable hands-on teaching experience. This exchange will foster a culture of continuous learning and professional development among both visiting and local medical teams. Additionally, the trip contributes to capacity building within the local healthcare system by empowering local surgeons to independently perform reconstructive breast microsurgery.

Population Served

The trip will directly impact breast cancer survivors in the central Vietnam (Hue, Da Nang) region by offering high-quality reconstructive surgical care to restore defects caused by cancer. Microsurgical breast reconstruction offers patients the opportunity to have an enduring, lifelong reconstruction using their own tissue, which is commonly harvested from the abdomen or back. One significant benefit of autologous reconstruction is that it creates a breast that feels and moves more like a natural breast. This can lead to greater satisfaction with the aesthetic outcome and improved body image for many patients. Additionally, autologous reconstruction results in a more durable and long-lasting reconstruction compared to implants, as the tissue used is part of the patient’s own body. These procedures are routinely offered in the United States with reported significant quality of life improvements in breast cancer survivors, but are seldom available in low-resource regions, like surrounding Hue region.

Expected Impact

The overall goal of this trip is to promote long-term sustainability by nurturing local talent and expertise, ensuring the continuity of quality care beyond the duration of the trip. In addition, six visiting female surgeons from multiple low-resource nations will be joining as a culmination of their year-long mentorship experience with Dr. Inchauste, via the Pioneering Women in Reconstructive Surgery (PWRS) program. Ultimately, the overarching goal is to empower promising young surgeons in low-resource nations to become leaders in reconstructive breast surgery, thereby improving the overall health outcomes and quality of life for breast cancer survivors globally.

Trip Photos & Recap

I was invited to teach the spectrum of breast reconstruction to local plastic surgeons in Hue, Vietnam. Breast reconstruction is typically not covered by insurance and it is costly for patients to pay out of pocket. I performed autologous and implant based reconstruction with the local plastic surgeons on 10 patients throughout the week teaching many different reconstructive techniques.