During the last two decades, general surgeon Dr Neil Meulman has helped change and improve the lives of numerous patients across the Central West.
He has built a wealth of experience performing a wide range of operations since arriving in Bathurst 23 years ago. In recent times, the doctor has begun to focus on breast cancer management and the relatively new field of oncoplastic breast surgery.
“I have always enjoyed the variety which comes with being a general surgeon, and for 23 years my practice has involved quite a lot of plastic surgery,” Dr Meulman said.
“The surgical management of breast cancer patients has changed a lot over the last five years and there were a number of procedures offered in metropolitan centres that were not available to residents of the Central West.
“Over the last three years I have endeavoured to be trained to a level that means I can confidently offer surgical management equivalent to that available in Sydney.”
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The evolution of breast cancer surgery into oncoplastic surgery enabled Dr Meulman to combine two of his special interests: breast cancer management and plastic surgery.
“The oncoplastic approach aims to give the best cosmetic outcome while managing the breast cancer,” he said.
“Having a background in both breast cancer management and plastic surgery is quite unusual. Most general surgeons don’t do a lot of plastic surgery.
The oncoplastic approach aims to give the best cosmetic outcome while managing the breast cancer.Dr Neil Meulman
“I do breast reductions, breast augmentations and prosthetic breast reconstructions, whereas most general surgeons don’t. That is why a lot of those surgeries get sent back over the sandstone curtain to Sydney.”
In 2016 he ventured to Budapest and Paris, after being awarded a scholarship by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, to study breast reconstructive surgery. He has now completed four courses in the last years.
“The courses were designed to teach breast surgeons from around the world the latest techniques in combining curative cancer operations with the best aesthetic outcome possible,” Dr Meulman said.
Operating out of the public hospitals in Bathurst, Mudgee and Cowra, as well as Bathurst Private Hospital, his patients appreciate the affable surgeon’s ability to discuss medical issues in a reassuring, empathetic and accurate manner.
All breast cancer surgery related operations are available in public and private hospitals.
Dr Meulman also has a long background of providing humanitarian services, working in Timor, the Solomon Islands and with the Australian Defence Force. All his patients are treated equally regardless of their insurance status. Insured patients are charged the no gap fee.
Patients usually come to Dr Meulman with a diagnosis and from there he “puts everything into perspective, allays any concerns and explains what we are dealing with, looks at the statistics, prognosis and management options”.
Current breast cancer management involves using a multidisciplinary team which is vibrant in the Central West. There are very few areas of breast cancer management that are now not available locally to residents of the Central West.
“Out of all the patients I deal with,” the doctor said, “the ones I feel the closest bond with are my breast cancer patients. You are looking after them for five years after their surgery and they are just so appreciative.”
Patients are referred to Dr Meulman’s Russell Street Specialist Centre from their general practitioner or via BreastScreen.