News | South Africa | Health
“If you’re a plastic surgeon, you have to look good, you have to look young. Would you go to a cardiologist that’s a smoker and obese and looks like his cholesterol is high and his heart is failing?” asks Dr Alexandra Grubnik, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon from Nip Tuck at the Netcare Milpark Hospital and Netcare Rosebank Hospital.
“It’s the same with a plastic surgeon. People want to go to a young, beautiful plastic surgeon.”
Having a special interest in breast surgery, breast reconstruction, body contouring and cosmetic surgery, Dr Grubnik completed her training at the University of the Witwatersrand with a Master of Medicine in Plastic Surgery (MMed) and is a Fellow of the College of Plastic Surgeons of South Africa (FC Plast Surg SA).
She also holds full registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and the General Medical Council (GMC) of the UK.
The medical profession runs in the Grubnik family, with her father, grandfather and uncle being surgeons, though she was the first to specialise in cosmetic surgery.
“I was in theatre when I was still in school, my father would take me to theatre, so I always knew I would want to be a surgeon,” she says.
While some female clients say they prefer male hair stylists in the beauty industry, it is different in the cosmetic surgery business, where male patients mostly consult with male doctors and females with female doctors.
“I get a lot of ladies who say they feel comfortable because I am a woman. I don’t think it’s the same in medicine. Men do come, not a lot – definitely more women,” she says.
She has seen an increase in the number of male clients looking to do cosmetic surgery for various reasons, with one of them being professional pressure.
“They’re under pressure to look fit and young and good because there are new people coming into the companies all the time. So they have to maintain an image that they’re still very young, driven, energetic and that they’re still of value to the company and not about to retire.
“Note, however, that everyone is different and everyone’s motivation is different. Some men come because they’re very much into their training and go to gym every day, and they have a few pockets of exercise-resistant fat and it really bothers them, and so they get rid of them surgically.”
For women, it’s mostly for aesthetic reasons.
“It’s actually intrinsic to women, they want to look good and feel good about themselves. Also, the major difference between men and women is that (most) women have children and that can ruin your body quite badly, so there are a lot of women who come to fix their body up after having children.”
While the gender profile of her clients is majority female, the racial profile is about 40% to 50% black people, about 30% white people and under 30% Indians, which sees her performing an average of seven procedures daily.
The idea of cutting flesh and seeing blood may be traumatising to some of us, but Dr Grubnik says cosmetic surgery is a good, controlled environment, compared to those who are in trauma surgery – where her career started.
“It was hectic,” she says, recalling days when she had to open patients’ chests to repair hearts.
“After you’ve opened a chest to repair a heart, a breast reduction seems like a very minor thing.”
Her very first cosmetic surgery was a breast reduction, which she says is a common procedure among women.
The most unusual surgery she ever did?
“I’ve had one man asking for a scrotum skin reduction,” she says.
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