Victorian Breast and Skin Oncoplastic surgeon
DR NICOLE FAI SIM YAP
Victorian Breast Oncoplastic, Endocrine and Melanoma surgeon, Dr Nicole Fai Sim Yap is also the founding director of Breast Institute Australia, and has practices from St Vincent’s Private, Epworth, through to Mulgrave and Holmesglen Private. She is one of the few Melbourne practitioners who specialises in the dual practice of breast tumour removal and breast reconstruction. During her career, Dr Yap has brought hope and comfort to hundreds of women, not only saving their lives but also helping heal their emotional wounds by restoring their appearance.

Dr Yap is often asked why her surname is Yap when she is does not look Chinese in appearance. “My appearance is the product of two diverse cultures.” she says. Her parents met when her Chinese-Malaysian father was completing his Pharmacy degree, and her AustralianIrish mother worked as a dental nurse.

Both sides of the family raised her to have a strong work ethic. Her father emigrated when he was sixteen, leaving behind a family of nine, boarded at Wesley college, then completed his Pharmacy degree and MBA shortly after. He spent the majority of his career as the Director of Pharmacy at the Royal Women’s Hospital.

Her father instilled in her the same determined motivation, with the constant reminder that “there is always room for improvement.”

Her mother also upheld these values with many holidays spent with her maternal grandparents enjoying the true “Australian lifestyle.” Her grandfather, a self-made
businessman, taught her from the age of 6, the art of mental mathematics whilst driving the tractor through the farm to feed the cattle. Seen often roaming the farm
in gumboots and a smock, determined to lasso calves

Dr Yap’s parents, Yin Cheong and Valda Yap

Dr Yap’s paternal grandfather (age 6)
with her great grandmother

which once led to a wild ride on the back of one of these terrified animals straight into the electric fence with no harm attained.

Her Australian lifestyle was interspersed with strong Chinese traditions and principles. Her father’s extended family eventually moved to Australia, and together the58 family celebrated Chinese New Year, mid Autumn Moon Festival…and any other reason to have a traditional Chinese banquet! Sunday Chinese school was mandatory.
Chopsticks were used interchangeably with knife and fork, shoes were to be left outside and sequined slippers only, were worn inside the house. Television was only
allowed after 6pm on a Sunday. Eldest Malaysian Uncle instructed her parents on discipline, by helpfully supplying a cane. It was left in the shed, and it was her
duty to collect it and explain why it should, or should not, be used. It certainly taught her how to debate!

She attended Mandeville Loreto Convent, which was then a boutique convent school. There, they instilled the concept that women are called upon “to do great things”.

Initially, she had her heart set on becoming a concert pianist, gaining her A.MusA degree in year 10 and obtaining a scholarship to the Conservatory of Music at the University of Melbourne shortly thereafter.

Her idea of a career in surgery started after completing work experience with an anaesthetist, and witnessing a set of triplets being born by caesarean section. This then led to the realisation that she wanted to be on the other side of the drapes, performing the procedures.

Dr Yap began her study of Medicine at Melbourne University, with full intent on becoming a surgeon.

After completing her Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, she trained for four years in Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic surgery, and completed her fellowship in
General Surgery.

This has allowed her to combine surgical cancer treatment of the breast with plastic surgical techniques to allow for an aesthetically pleasing result following cancer surgery.It also allows for symmetrisation of the non affected side.

Dr Nicole Yap, credits her good fortune in being offered an opportunity to work under the supervision of renowned breast cancer and reconstructive surgeon Professor Krishna Clough at the Clinique Bizet in Paris, and also with Dr Emmanual Delay at Leon Berard cancer centre, and Clinique Charcot. The experience has changed her approach to breast surgery, and allowed her breast Oncoplastic Surgery to be optimised.

Victorian Breast
NICOLE FAI SIM YAP

Graduation Ceremony: Dr Yap with Vice Chancellor
of the University of Melbourne, David Penington AC

Dr Yap with Producer and Director, Stephen Handisides
of MyFaceMyBody Global Aesthetic USA Awards.

This led to her being voted finalist in My Face, My Body awards in categories – and winner of Best Practice, Best patient experience and Best Aesthetic Practice.

She was invited to be a Judge in the USA My Face My Body Awards, in the categories of best plastic surgeon and best practice. She then presented the awards at the star studded Gala event held at the Beverley Wilshire Hotel, LA.

Dr Yap is skilled in breast reconstruction and augmentation using both implants and autologous fat grafting and has presented on autologous fat transfer at the International Society of Plastic Regenerative Surgery Congress, Rome, and World Congress of Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cells, Guangzhou, China. This year she has also been asked to present at the first ever Global Virtual Aesthetic Symposium. She has also presented at International Plastic Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery (IPRAS) Sydney, and EPRAS , Vienna.

Dr Yap has been involved in surgical education as educator and examiner of medical students at Monash University and has represented The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in a presentation regarding “Changing trends in breast cancer and the implications to management of this disease” to the Minister of Health, in order to bring to attention the emerging medical challengers women face and how the government could assist.

Among numerous appointments, Dr Yap is Deputy Chair of the VRC of The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Representative on the Cancer Council of Victoria Medical and Scientific Committee. She is also RACS representative councillor on the state branch of AMA. This led to her being recognised by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons with a certificate of outstanding service.

Dr Yap, who works from St Vincent’s Hospital, Epworth and Mulgrave Private, uses her knowledge of plastic and oncology surgery to create a holistic approach to patients with breast cancer. Whilst still performing a complete oncological outcome, intention to the aesthetic result is drawn from the outset of treatment.

She is also Past President of The Australian Chinese Medical Association of Victoria, current Vice President of the Medico – Legal Society Victoria, and sits on the
board of Pink Hope.10

Whilst with ACMAV Dr Yap was able to extend her altruistic side in assisting those less fortunate with ACMAV Foundation’s first International mission. In collaboration with Starfish Orphanage, and Xian Jiatong Hospital, she was involved with a small surgical team performing life changing cleft lip and palate procedures.These children, some younger than twelve months, had been abandoned due to deformities. By improving these children‘s health, it became easier to by find parents around the globe to adopt these children.

Dr Yap featured amongst the top 100 global aesthetic leaders at “The Ultimate 100 Global Leaders Awards” held last year in the US.

Dr Yap with respected former Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop (now the first female Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University (ANU).

Pre-Operative Assessment at
the Starfish Orphanage, Xian China

Whilst in Xian, she also took the opportunity to build collaborative relationships between Australia and China, by being involved with the breast cancer unit and giving educational lectures in breast oncoplastic surgery to the hospital staff.

The mission in Xian was marred when a motorcycle gang mugged her with everything taken including passport and Visa. She took a cramped train from Xian to Beijing to obtain a passport . Without identification, it is nearly impossible to do anything – even something as simple as finding accommodation! She became extremely unwell and after 4 days of waiting for the necessary paperwork, collapsed in the plane to Hong Kong.

Work life balance is also important aspect to her life. She has managed to incorporate her love of skiing and cycling with some form of work. Skiing and presenting
in countries ranging from Switzerland, USA, and Japan has really improved her techniques in both disciplines! Cycling across Cambodia to raise money for cancer
research led to cycling across Croatia, a slightly more challenging mountainous course!

Back on home ground, her journey continues with just as many challenges, as Breast Oncoplastic practice is an evolving speciality.

“In my view, the breast is the symbol of womanhood,reproductivity, and female sexuality. Surgery to the breast is akin to defiling this empowerment by destroying body image, and many women feel depressed and anxious after such surgery. Breast oncoplastic surgery offers such women a way to overcome this”

It is important to concentrate on the final result, not just post surgery but also considering adjuvant treatment outcomes, in the treatment of breast cancer.

“Women in time will
come to do much ….
let your vocation be
constant, efficacious
and affectionate.”
– Mary Ward,
Founder of the Sisters of Loreto

“Instead of starting down the path of treatment and then seeing what I can do to improve the outcome later, I consider a range of plastics procedures at the outset, such as using breast reduction surgery to reduce the effects of radiation treatment post lumpectomy ”

“Some women have always wanted breast reduction surgery, for example, and when I tell them I can treat the cancer and conduct such reduction surgery in one
procedure they are delighted.

“I also undertake mastectomy procedures followed by breast enhancement reconstruction and when it is complete, many patients feel better about themselves than they did prior to surgery.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to have received such training and support both in Australia and Europe but I take the most pleasure from having happy, healthy patients.”

“In my view, the breast is the symbol of womanhood, reproductivity, and female sexuality. Surgery to the breast is akin to defiling this empowerment by destroying body image, and many women feel depressed and anxious after such surgery. Breast oncoplastic surgery offers such women a way to overcome this”

In the words of Winston Churchill, “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”