Why did you choose your particular specialty?
Plastic surgery is a very creative specialty, which builds on the fundamentals of many different surgical fields. One day you are operating on a child with a congenital anomaly and the next day you are operating on a fractured lower leg needing a tissue transplant for coverage. The scope is huge and requires a number of varied skills.
If you ask five plastic surgeons how to solve a problem you frequently end up with five different answers, all of which are viable and frequently evidence based. The wide scope and variability in plastic surgery mean that no two days are the same and no two operations are the same, which always keeps me on my feet!!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really enjoy the technical skill and problem-solving aspects of plastic surgery. Together, these provide me with a steady stream of satisfied patients, which I find very rewarding.
What one thing do you wish every member of the public knew?
The one thing that I wish every member of the public knew (and many doctors frequently do not know!!) is that plastic surgery does not just include cosmetic procedures. In fact the subspecialties range from hand surgery to burns to congenital anomalies to breast reconstruction to head and neck cancer surgery and reconstructive microsurgery, to name but a few…
What three traits define you?
- Attention to detail
- Not being shy of working hard
- The ability to communicate with patients so as to guide their expectations (especially with cosmetic patients)
Who is your inspiration?
Mr.Allan Wilson (General/Vascular Surgeon): An extremely bright and humble surgeon who was a technical wizard, with the ability to operate anywhere in the body effortlessly while involving medical students and staff in order to both teach and inspire them!!
What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my research and fellowships in the USA. I spent nearly 3 years carrying out research both at New York University (NYU) and Stanford University, California and completed a groundbreaking project using tissues that we routinely transplant as vehicles for therapeutic protein production, facilitated by genetic engineering techniques. I was awarded the James Barrett Brown Award (Best Plastic Surgery Paper), the Clifford C Snyder award (Plastic Surgery Research Council) as well as an AO Research Foundation Grant and an American College of Surgeons – Research Fellow award.
I subsequently spent a year at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston Texas where I carried out a microvascular fellowship. Only one foreign trainee is accepted onto the programme each year and this hospital carries out more tissue transplants (relating to microvascular reconstruction) then any other institution in the world.
If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
That’s a tricky one… I feel very satisfied with what I do so I would have to do a job that relates to one of my hobbies…
I would love to be a Chef in a Michelin star restaurant for a day… it would be interesting to see which job is the more stressful of the two!!
What advances in medicine are you most excited about?
I am most excited about advances in genetic engineering and their applications in medicine, ranging from the treatment of X-Linked SCID (Severe Combined Immune Deficiency) and CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia) and recently to the possibility of treating patients with haemophilia.
If progress continues then the applications can spread to specific areas within plastic/reconstructive surgery, which was the basis of my research project in the USA and lead to my research MD from the University of London.
What (health) app would you most recommend?
myHealthSpecialist.com. Was there ever any doubt!!
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Mr Shadi Ghali, Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon
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