Associate Professor Sydney Ch’ng is a fully qualified plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon and leading surgical researcher. She is one of a few surgeons fully trained in both plastic surgery and head and neck surgery. Her current work includes cancer surgery (head and neck cancer, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers), reconstructive surgery, cosmetic surgery, and academic work as Associate Professor of Surgery at The University of Sydney.
Dr Ch’ng studied medicine at the University of Melbourne. During her surgical training, she participated in the Surgeon Scientist Program through the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS). She performed two years of full time research into the biology of skin cancers, publishing many scientific papers, and presenting her research at both national and international conferences. Dr Ch’ng won a number of awards including the Young Investigator Award presented by the Australian and New Zealand Head and Neck Cancer Society (ANZHNCS), Best Proffered Paper at the ANZHNCS Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM), the Louis Barnett Prize for best free paper at the RACS (NZ) ASM, and Best Scientific Poster at the RACS Annual Scientific Congress (ASC). This research culminated in the awarding of a PhD, and contributed to changes in global guidelines for staging of skin cancers.
Following this, Dr Ch’ng completed training in plastic and reconstructive Surgery, obtaining Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS).
She undertook further training in head and neck Surgery at the Sydney Head and Neck Cancer Institute and Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital. This allowed her to gain extensive experience in both resection and reconstructive surgery for all types of head and neck benign and malignant (cancer) pathology.
Dr Ch’ng then completed a fellowship specialising in adult craniofacial (facial trauma and facial cosmetic) surgery at the renowned Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan, working with world leaders in this field.
Subsequently, Dr Ch’ng went to the premier cancer hospital in USA, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, as a fellow on the highly competitive American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery Program. There she learnt the latest techniques in cancer surgery such as advanced microsurgery, robotic surgery, and lymphoedema surgery.
Dr Ch’ng collaborates with experts in medical oncology, radiation oncology, pathology, and allied health when caring for head and neck cancer and melanoma patients. Her interests include facial skin cancers (especially those involving the ear, nose, eyelids and lips), advanced skin cancers requiring complex reconstruction following resection with a focus on obtaining the best cosmetic outcome and restoring function, surgery for parotid tumours (including nerve integrity monitoring and mini-facelift incisions), and blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery).
In addition to her clinical work, Dr Ch’ng is associate professor of Surgery at the Institute of Academic Surgery, The University of Sydney. She is the research lead for Plastic Surgery at RPA Hospital. She has authored numerous scientific papers and book chapters, and been awarded a number of successful research grant applications. She is an examiner for the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and a reviewer for highly regarded scientific journals. In 2015, she was recognised with the inaugural Young Researcher Award by the Sydney Local Health District Innovation and Research Symposium. In the same year, she was named one of the Westpac and Australian Financial Reviewer 100 Women of Influence.
Dr Ch’ng is actively involved in the supervision and training of local and overseas surgeons, trainees and medical students. She is a council member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. She convened the 17th International Course on Perforator Flaps in Sydney in November 2016, and is the Plastic Surgery Section Convenor for the RACS ASC 2018.
Dr Ch’ng is married to a Kiwi transplant anaesthetist, and is a passionate mother of two.
- Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)
- Australian and New Zealand Head and Neck Cancer Society (ANZHNCS)
- Melanoma Institute of Australia
- Australia and New Zealand Melanoma Trial Group
- AO CMF (Craniomaxillofacial) International
- Sydney Facial Nerve Service
Q&A with Associate Professor Sydney Ch’ng
What does your role involve?
I am a Head and Neck surgeon as well as a Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon. I treat a range of conditions, from simple facial skin cancers to complex head and neck cancers that require major resection and reconstruction. My comprehensive and diverse training allows me to apply sound oncologic principles to cancer resection, and thereafter restore form (appearance) and function (facial movement, swallowing, speech) following cancer resection with reconstructive surgery.
How long have you been working at Lifehouse? What has it been like so far?
I have been working at Lifehouse for over a year, since its inception. Initially I took part in the multidisciplinary meeting and clinics, then day surgery, then in the last few weeks, I have started doing major head and neck cases.
Where were you working prior to Lifehouse?
I did all my FRACS plastic surgery training in Australia and New Zealand, then was fortunate enough to spend 18 months overseas for post-FRACS training. I spent six months at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan, and 12 months at the premier cancer institution in the USA – University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Whilst there, I obtained vast experience in cancer surgery especially reconstructive surgery. It is very rewarding and reassuring to know that our patients here are receiving the best treatment available in the world.
What kinds of procedures do you do here?
The cases I perform range from simple excision of facial skin lesions to complex surgery for treatment of advanced or metastatic (those that have spread to the lymph nodes or other organs) skin cancers, oral cancers and parotid tumours, surgery for facial palsy, and surgery for lymphoedema in the arm or leg. The operating theatres at Lifehouse are equipped with the latest technology including state-of-the-art microscopes to enable complex surgery to be undertaken.
What research are you currently working on?
I have ongoing research projects in head and neck skin cancers, parotid tumours, facial palsy, and quality of life following reconstruction for major oncological resection, and lymphoedema. I have undertaken research all throughout my surgical training and have a PhD for my work on the molecular biology of skin cancers. As well as collaborating with many other Lifehouse clinicians, I am supervising the work of many surgical trainees and medical students. I am an Associate Professor in Surgery at the University of Sydney.