As plastic and reconstructive surgeon, I am particularly blessed, in that I have an incredibly interesting and diverse field of study. I can operate on any part of the anatomy, and my work is not only dedicated to cosmetic surgery, as many patients think, but I also do a lot of reconstructive work. In addition to that, I can perform many non-surgical cosmetic surgery procedures. Above all, plastic surgery is the field of medicine which probably shows the most promise for pushing boundaries and developing new frontiers, with the development of nano-technology, skin substitutes, 3D-printing and more.

 

Many people ask me why I still do trauma work. One of the main reasons is because of the challenging reconstructive opportunities it offers me. These reconstructive surgeries also ensure that I improve and enhance my skills on challenging surgeries.

Since replanting my first hand while still in medical school, I have been fascinated with hand surgery. I managed to rotate in the hand surgery department at UCT while specializing as plastic surgeon, and therefore regularly perform hand surgery, especially for traumatic hand injuries. I also perform other hand surgery procedures, such as the release of Dupuytren’s contracture and repair of syndactyly, in my every day practice.

Cosmetic surgery is every plastic surgeon’s goal. And the more experienced one is, the more surgeries one performs, the better one becomes. One learns with each patient, and one strives to be better with the next – never quite reaching perfection. I am often asked how I can perform “vanity” procedures. I can assure you that very few cosmetic surgery procedures are truly performed for reasons of vanity. Well, certainly not in my practice – I have only seen true vanity being chased by the Kardashian family and their groupies, never in my practice.

I particularly love the art of facial rejuvenation, which includes facelifts, facial fat grafting, eyelid surgery, neck liposuction and neck lift surgery, and many non-surgical options such as Botox and dermal fillers and thread lifts. Restoring the damage that the elements, life experiences and live has wrought on faces, while still ensuring that the patient looks natural and not operated or treated, is my life goal. I just love it when my patients report that their friends thought they looked fantastic after a facial procedure, but couldn’t figure out what they had done. To me, this is the perfection I strive for.

Many patients are surprised to arrive in my waiting room, to find it filled with children – thinking that they have accidentally walked into a pediatrician’s office. Small children inevitably become my patients mainly because of traumatic events, such as slamming a finger in a door, falling off the jungle gym, or (the only surgery I do not enjoy), sustaining an accidental burn. My famous Winnie-the-Pooh tie is specially put on for these follow up visits, and I absolutely enjoy making all my children giggle and laugh during their visits to the practice.

I also operate on young children with prominent ears – and even on those that were born without part of, or without an entire ear. These are patients suffering from a condition called microtia. This is my super-specialist “hobby”, and my family and I spent six months in France while I completed a fellowship to teach me the finer skills of performing this reconstructive surgery.

Breasts are my personal favorite (aren’t they any man’s?). One of the most soul satisfying surgeries is performing reconstructive surgery for a woman with breast cancer. It certainly isn’t easy, but becoming part of the journey, and assisting her to regain some form of femininity is extremely gratifying. I also often perform fat grafting to the breasts to soften the extremely hard tissue that has resulted from radiation therapy after breast cancer surgery, before I embark on the reconstructive process.

Breasts come in all shapes and sizes, and women cannot always choose how big, how small or how saggy their breasts are – genetics, congenital diseases, and childbirth all play a role. To reshape a sagging breast, or reduce an extremely large breast, or to give a young woman dignity by enlarging her almost non-existent breasts are special gifts which I can share with my female patients.

Restoring a male breast to its normal shape by removing excess breast tissue, and thereby restoring manliness, to reconstruct a condition called gynecomastia, is life-changing to most males.

I perform body shaping procedures - usually after some sort of weight loss by patients. Patients who have undergone bariatric surgery, or massive weight loss, are operated to remove the excess skin during procedures which could be a combination of a body lift, thigh lift, buttock lift or arm lift. Other patients, who have lost weight, and are left with an overhang of excess skin of the abdomen, would undergo an abdominoplasty procedure. I have never considered body shaping procedures as purely cosmetic of nature, as a major portion of this surgery is removing excesses of unsightly skin that cannot be removed in any other way.

A less invasive procedure to attain body shaping, is liposuction – when we remove stubborn areas of excess fat, which have resisted attempts at removal through exercise and diet.

Many of my patients have been part of my practice because of lumps and bumps, such as sebaceous cysts, lipomas, or skin cancers. I perform skin cancer surgery every week, and this includes surgery for the less serious skin cancers like basal cell carcinomas, and the more demanding skin cancers, like malignant melanoma.

Patients often ask me which of these surgeries I enjoy the most, or which one I am better at. You might identify several plastic and reconstructive surgery procedures that I have not mentioned here – those are the ones I do not enjoy, and have therefore opted not to perform.

I approach each of my surgeries the same way – with perfection, professionalism and enjoyment in mind – I want to meet my patient’s expectations, enrich their lives and mine, and have fun at the same time. This requires that I perform a wide variety of procedures, each requiring a different skill and a different experience level. Performing a wide variety of procedures means that I do not get bored performing a procedure, that I never take a procedure for granted, or become over-confident at performing the procedure –I continue to learn, to improve and to enhance my skills.