The science behind beauty

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Name: Dr Ahmed Makki
Website: http://qatarplasticsurgery.com
Type: Plastic surgery
Location: 147 Najma Street, Al Hilal
Nationality: Qatari

Doha has many interesting buildings, yet, whilst driving along a busy road in Najma, you may nevertheless be surprised to see one in particular. That is because the sign above the door is totally unique to the city, for it reads; “PLASTIC SURGICENTRE”.

Dr. Makki, the managing director and founder of the centre, is very busy with a number of patients, yet spares a little time to tell bq about his professional and personal journey within this challenging field.

bq: Could you tell us about your career?

Dr Ahmed Makki: I began my journey as a plastic surgeon more than 25 years ago. About 13 years ago, in 2001, I started my private clinic as a single-doctor facility, but prior to that I underwent many years of training to become qualified to work in this very challenging field.

I grew up here in Qatar and after finishing school, I went to Egypt for a degree in Medicine from Cairo University. After I graduated, I went to the US and the UK to gain further experience and practical knowledge, and also studied for another degree in the more specialised field of plastic surgery. My deep passion for learning, coupled with wholehearted effort and continuous hard work has enabled me to expand my tiny one-doctor clinic into a well-organised, efficient and busy practice, with a number of experienced doctors, nurses, and state-of the art facilities.

bq: There are many fields within medicine  – why did you choose a career in plastic surgery?

AM: I have long held the desire to challenge myself and firmly believe that developing my expertise in plastic surgery fulfills that desire. It expands my horizons and tests my skills on a daily basis. For me, the greatest test of skill and character comes when you are able to meet different challenges both technically and creatively, and plastic surgery is the ideal medium to achieve that.

Even better, my chosen profession is fulfilling because I, and the client, can quite literally see the visible outcome of my work.  I actually help to make my clients’ dreams for a better tomorrow come true, and although many career paths may be easier, none of them would give me such a level of personal and professional satisfaction.

 bq: What are your goals for the practice. What is your core focus?

AM: My main focus is to help people to achieve their needs. Whenever some one calls in for a consultation, I know he or she is seeking help, and I have to discover the kindest and best way to meet their specific requirements. A vital part of that process is to give the client the best advice – even if that means I have to tell them that surgery is not really necessary for them. My clients’ needs are my top priority and trust and honesty is a vital part of that process.  If surgery is necessary, I will most certainly advise it, but equally, if it is not, I would recommend something else that is better suited to meet their needs.

bq: How do you define beauty?

AM: I believe that true beauty is realised when the client looks natural. When I perform surgery on someone, I do not want anyone to realise that she has undergone any procedure. I want people to say, “Yeah, she is naturally beautiful!”

bq: What is the difference between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery?

AM: Plastic surgery is a specialised craft whose aim is to remodel certain body structures in order to improve their function and appearance. The word `plastic’ is derived from the Greek word ‘plastikos,’ meaning `suitable for moulding’. The plastic surgeon must work to achieve both aesthetic and functional results to the best of his or her ability. Modern plastic surgery encompasses and involves many different techniques from both reconstructive and aesthetic surgery. Some plastic surgeons specialise in particular fields – including reconstruction after trauma, severe burns, or cancer. Others may develop an extensive interest in hand surgery, or microsurgery.

Cosmetic surgery, (also termed aesthetic surgery), is a branch of plastic surgery which focuses upon form and appearance. Its aim is to improve the appearance of various areas of the body that may be unpleasant in size or shape due to genetic or acquired causes. The goal of aesthetic surgery is to correct these defects, which may be causing the individual both physical and psychological difficulties.

 bq: How many doctors currently work in your practice?

AM: We currently have 16 doctors, but some are visiting doctors.

bq: Describe the patients that you see in your practice.

AM: We see different types of patients, from children to the elderly, and women to men. Although Qataris make up a high percentage of our patients, we also receive clients from other nationalities.

bq: Do you also receive patients from GCC countries?

AM: Yes, we have patients who travel to our practice specifically for plastic surgery from countries in the GCC, and also from further afield – from Europe, America and even Australia.

bq: Why do you think that they approach you for treatment, given that these countries possess excellent treatment facilities?

AM: Actually, most of our recommendations come by word of mouth. Our satisfied clients often recommend friends or relatives to visit us for treatment and they go on to receive the same high standard of service from us.

We offer premier levels of surgery, which also represent superb value, especially compared to similar practices and services available around the world.  It is, of course, possible to find very cheap treatment in both Europe and America, but if you require the excellence provided by a good plastic surgeon, it can also be very expensive. We offer superb service at reasonable prices, with tremendous results.

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bq: What is your speciality?

AM: Our speciality is continual expansion, both in knowledge and technique. Every day, we try to discover something new, as we believe that if you fail to keep up-to-date, you will fall behind. Personally, I always try to be aware of the latest technologies, and travel three to four times a year to attend different conferences, at which I both gain and exchange the latest knowledge. And, if we discover anything new, we always bring it back to Qatar.

bq: From where do you source your equipment and pharmaceuticals?

AM: They are imported from different countries in Europe, and from America.

bq: What kind of services do you provide?

AM: We provide all kinds of reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, such as facelifts, breast augmentation, tummy tucks, nose jobs and liposuction. We also offer non-surgical treatments like botox, chemical peels, mesotherapy and different laser treatments.

bq: Which are the most popular procedures?

AM: The most popular procedures are breast augmentation and surgery for obesity. The bodies of women who have had many pregnancies can change significantly, especially the breasts and abdomen. We call the techniques to fix these problems ‘mummy makeover’ surgery! The satisfaction level with this is very high, particularly when our clients gain a much nicer shape. In this sense, these procedures can actually change lives by boosting self-confidence. A client who looks good feels good.

We increasingly see patients with obesity problems. Obesity is rapidly becoming a serious problem in the GCC countries and is quite prevalent in Qatar. About 70 percent of people here are overweight and 41 percent of those are actually obese. So, we receive many patients for correction of the effects of massive weight loss. Those patients who have lost weight either by dieting or after weight reduction surgery, they come to us to correct the skin laxity they had as a result of weight loss. We call these cases post-bariatric surgery.

bq: You have been in this profession for the past 25 years. Has there been any significant difference in the number and type of patients over this time?

AM: Patient numbers are increasing daily as people become more interested in enhancing their beauty. In the past, we would receive patients who were rich and famous, but now we see people from all backgrounds and levels of income. These people have come to regard plastic surgery as an important factor in their lives and I think this consciousness emerges from raised awareness of our techniques through ever-expanding forms of media, especially television, and the internet.

Ten years ago, 80 to 90 percent of patients were women, but that is changing dramatically. These days, the percentage of men is about 35 percent. Numbers of male patients are on the increase, too, as they become increasingly conscious about their looks and physical beauty. Mostly, they want to look young and healthy.

bq: What challenges did you face while opening your business, and how did you overcome them?

AM: When I initially started out, my profession was new to Qatar, which itself represented a challenge. It was very difficult to compete with the free services provided by the government, as Hamad hospital offers free plastic and reconstructive surgery. So, we needed to offer a different kind of service to get people to come to us. Another challenge was financial – it was easy to set up a clinic for general treatment, but not so easy to set up a plastic surgery clinic requiring unique equipment and specially trained staff.

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bq: So how did you finance yourself, did you have to take loans?

AM: Yes, I had to take loans from banks to set up the clinic.

bq: Is this a rented building?

AM: No, this building was developed according to our own specifications and requirements. As you can, see, it is very different compared to other medical centres. We have a great deal of space to house all our ultra-modern facilities.

bq: What challenges/difficulties do you currently face?

AM: Currently we are a day centre and most of our patients are released on the same day of treatment. But if we need a patient to stay overnight, we send the person to Doha Clinic. Therefore, we are currently planning to open our own hospital, with all the facilities necessary to continue our high standards of treatment and aftercare.

bq: How do you see the competition? Who are your biggest competitors and what do you do to stay ahead of them?

AM: We are the first and only centre specialising in plastic surgery, though now a few hospitals and clinics also offer it. But if anybody requires a trusted, well-accredited private practice offering the best plastic surgery, he or she would definitely come to us.

 bq: Could you give us some idea on the cost of plastic surgery?

AM: It is extremely difficult to give an exact cost without seeing the patient, as all patients are different, and the price of cosmetic surgery would vary depending on which procedure, or procedures, the patient wishes to have. Some patients may take longer in the theatre than others, some will have a local anaesthetic and not a general. Hospitals charge different prices for theatre time – the list is endless, and therefore it is not possible to determine a price without a professional and detailed consultation.

Once the patient enters into consultation with the surgeon, we provide a fixed price quote inclusive of everything – hospital stay, anaesthesia and aftercare, and any follow-up consultations that may be required

bq: Where do you see yourself and your business in the next five years?

AM: My aim is to create our own hospital that specialises exclusively in plastic surgery.

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