We recently had the opportunity to interview the Rae Clinic’s multi-award-winning aesthetic plastic surgeon, Dr Ali Ghanem.
Dr Ali Ghanem has made significant strides in academic and medicinal practice, serving as both a senior clinical lecturer on plastic reconstructive aesthetic surgery at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and aesthetic medicine and reconstructive microsurgery master programmes course lead, at the London School of Medicine & Dentistry (Queen Mary University of London).
We wanted to ask Dr Ghanem a few questions in order to learn more about him, his vision, and how he got here:
Q. What made you decide to practice medicine. What was behind your decision?
A. I always wanted to be an architect. I wanted to design things and be an artist. I got high grades in my high school final exams (A-Levels equivalent) and there was significant pressure from my family to become a doctor. I didn’t like it at first, but things dramatically changed for me in my 4th year of studies – when I started actually interacting with patients. I found that my presence alone gave them much comfort, before any treatment was even taking place. That gave me great satisfaction. I felt like that was my calling – listening to patients, caring about them and helping them.
Q. Dr. Ali Ghanem, Who were the teachers that inspired you and what did they teach you?
First would have to be my mum. My mother was unconditionally giving, both at home and at work. She was a lawyer who assisted incarcerated prisoners with different requests they had to submit. It wasn’t an easy job or clientele, but nonetheless she always took care of all their requests, unconditionally, regardless of their pasts and what got them to where they were. In many ways, it’s similar to practicing medicine and treating patients unconditionally and regardless of anything else. That is part of me now.
The second would be a lecturer I had at my UK University. An Austrian doctor who taught us to always look at the patient before any illness. Not to be strictly medicinal, so to speak, but to listen and learn from the patient himself. There are a lot of hidden information treasures in that conversation that many doctors don’t uncover.
Lastly, Mr Sommerlad (Plastic surgeon) – He was my facial deformities professor at uni. He taught me most of what I knew until that point about facial reconstruction, and for that I am greatly indebted to him.
Q. Dr. Ali Ghanem, How did you meet your wife Yurika?
A. I was always fascinated by Japan. It’s so different from my culture that it is hard not to be. I find Japanese culture so appealing, smart, and elegant. When I got the opportunity to visit Japan in order to train with a fellow Japanese plastic surgeon on a special technique treating facial paralysis, I couldn’t resist the opportunity. During my visit there, I decided to learn Japanese and as luck would have it, I came across the smartest, most caring and beautiful tutor I could hope for.
Q. Finally, before we move on to the Rae Clinic, If you wouldn’t mind sharing with us what you consider to be your flaws?
A. I am often told that I take too much time with my patients. I know it might seem like a positive trait but it’s frequently not, purely because it disturbes scheduling and time slots. So recently I’ve been trying to pay greater attention to this issue and resolve it in a way that won’t hurt my interactions with my patients but also in keeping with the Clinic’s schedule.
Q. Dr. Ali Ghanem, Shifting focus to the work you do at the Rae Clinic – How did you get to the field of medicine?
A. From a young age, I was very interested in art and the beauty of things. I was especially intrigued by the human face and the symmetry of what makes it beautiful and how it can be manipulated. During my medical studies, much of my time was spent working on facial deformities, especially in infants. I was fascinated with the surgical procedures that helped fix these deformities. Later I learned that fixing these deformities was only one part of the job and that making sure that these patients heal properly with minimal scarring was quite a great challenge. I remembered that back at medical school we were taught that an embryo can fully regenerate itself in case of wounding, leaving no scar. I then wondered what changes when we grow up and how I can simulate these same fantastic results in my procedures and my patients. I decided to further investigate this and got my PHD on stem- cell biology focusing on cell Biology. In a way, everything that I did since then was unfolding the science behind medicine.
Q. Dr. Ali Ghanem, What do you consider to be your greatest success using medicine?
A. I have hundreds of success stories. The kind of success stories that I like the most are the ones involving patients that come to me after they had complications in a former procedure. These patients are usually very concerned about their current problem, about the scars or the defects that they were left with and they are generally scared of having another aesthetic treatment. Completing treatment with these patients, while restoring their faith in aesthetic medicine is the most rewarding thing for me.
Q. Why would you recommend enriching treatments in combination with regular ones?
A. The main reason I choose to combine my treatments is that I want to treat the root of the problem. When you are introducing foreign materials to the body (like fillers, botox, certain implants etc) you’re mainly disguising the problem. The foreign body will dissolve with time and unmask the initial condition treated. With enriching medicine you treat the root of the problem, your body heals into this new state and stays that way until the tissue gets old again. Unlike fillers, botox etc., the body takes longer to regenerate. The combination of these two treatments gives the ultimate combination – you leave an implant in your body (quick fix) and wait for the enriching treatment to kick in. The result will last much longer and the patient ends up looking much more natural.
Thank you for your time Dr Ali Ghanem and for letting us gain some insight on your passion for the profession and also your zest for life.