DOCTOR IS IN: Plastic surgeon David Sharp has set up a clinic in Ipswich.
DOCTOR IS IN: Plastic surgeon David Sharp has set up a clinic in Ipswich. Rob Williams

A nip, a tuck, a melanoma

IT'S not all breast augmentations, tummy tucks and face lifts for plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr David Sharp.

In fact cosmetic procedures make up less than one quarter of his workload.

Dr Sharp, who has worked in Ipswich for six months, said he spent most of his time as a surgeon treating victims of avoidable skin cancers.

"The bread and butter for plastic surgeons in Queensland is skin malignancies ranging from little skin cancers to aggressive head and neck skin malignancies," he said.

"Every patient is different and I can treat 50 different skin cancers on different people on their nose and each of them is going to have an individual reconstruction so it's really patient-dependent and no two surgeries are the same.

"I don't think all plastic surgeons should be pigeon-holed into breast augmentation cowboys. It's much more complex than that.

"It's quite a delicate relationship. Someone is entrusting their body to you so you want to make sure (the surgeon) is well equipped to do so."

Dr Sharp said he treated skin cancer at his new clinic on Court St as well as in hospitals in the Brisbane region depending on the complexity of the surgery.

The surgeon urged people of all ages to remain sun safe as the weather cooled down, especially with the winter sports season about to commence.

"At the very best you'll need an operation to remove a lesion, some stitches and a scar," he said.

"At the more severe end of the spectrum, I have operated on patients where I've unfortunately had to excise half of their face, the cancer has invaded so extensively, so quickly.

"The gravity of skin cancer shouldn't be forgotten in winter."

Dr Sharp said more than 95% of skin cancers could be successfully treated if found early but prevention was better than treatment.

The plastic and reconstructive surgeon said recovery from treatment for those with skin cancer could take up to three months if cancers were not addressed early.

"Some operations take 10-12 hours and they're in hospital for two weeks and then recovery can take up to three months in total so it can be quite debilitating," he said.

"I often see patients from regional areas whose cancers have taken over an entire foot, finger or lip before they've gone to a plastic surgeon.

"The longer you leave that changing spot, the more extensive your surgery is going to be, so early detection is key."



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