Doha has many interesting buildings, yet, while driving along one of the busy streets in Najma, one building, in particular, is likely to catch your attention, because of a sign above the door. It says ‘PLASTIC SURGICENTRE,’ something totally unique in this city.
When BQ paid a visit, the center’s Managing Director and Founder, Dr Ahmed Makki, was busy attending to a number of patients. However, he managed to spare some time, in between, to tell us about his professional and personal journey in a field that is truly challenging.
BQ: Could you tell us about your career?
Dr 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 then the UK to gain further experience and practical knowledge. I also obtained another degree in a more specialized field of plastic surgery.
My deep passion for learning, coupled with my wholehearted effort and continuous hard work have enabled me to expand my tiny one-doctor clinic into a well-organized, efficient and busy practice that now has a number of experienced doctors, nurses, and state-of-the-art facilities.
BQ: There are many fields within medicine – then why did you opt for a career in plastic surgery?
“My chosen profession is fulfilling because I, and the client, can quite literally see the visible outcome of my work”
Dr Makki: I had long held a 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?
Dr Makki: My main focus is to help people meet their needs. Whenever someone 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?
Dr Makki: I believe that true beauty is realized when the client looks natural. When I perform surgery on someone, I do not want anyone to recognize 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?
“The word ‘plastic’ is derived from the Greek word ‘plastikos’, meaning ‘suitable for molding”
Dr Makki: Plastic surgery is a specialized 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 molding’. 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 specialize 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?
Dr Makki: We currently have 16 doctors, but some are visiting doctors.
BQ: Describe the patients that you see in your practice.
Dr Makki: 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?
Dr Makki: 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?
Dr Makki: 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.
BQ: What is your specialty?
Dr Makki: Our specialty 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?
Dr Makki: They are imported from different countries in Europe and from America.
BQ: What kind of services do you provide?
Dr Makki: 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?
“Obesity is rapidly becoming a serious problem in the GCC countries and is quite prevalent in Qatar. About 70% of people here are overweight and 41% of those are actually obese”
Dr Makki: 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% of people here are overweight and 41% 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?
“Ten years ago, 80% to 90% of patients were women, but that is changing dramatically. These days, the percentage of men is about 35%”
Dr Makki: 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 with 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% of patients were women, but that is changing dramatically. These days, the percentage of men is about 35%. 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?
Dr Makki: 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.
BQ: So how did you finance yourself, did you have to take loans?
Dr Makki: Yes, I had to take loans from banks to set up the clinic.
BQ: Is this a rented building?
Dr Makki: No, this building was developed according to our own specifications and requirements. As you can, see, it is very different from other medical centers. We have a great deal of space to house all our ultra-modern facilities.
BQ: What challenges/difficulties do you currently face?
Dr Makki: Currently we are a day center 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?
Dr Makki: We are the first and only center specializing 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?
“the price of cosmetic surgery would vary depending on which procedure, or procedures, the patient wishes to have”
Dr Makki: 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 theater than others, some will have a local anesthetic and not a general. Hospitals charge different prices for theater 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, anesthesia 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?
Dr Makki: My aim is to create our own hospital that specializes exclusively in plastic surgery.
This article is from BQ Magazine’s Issue 39 – December 2016.
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