My Journey As A Plastic Surgeon
As a plastic surgeon, I value building a good relationship with my patients. I want to create a comfortable and trustworthy environment where patients can openly discuss their concerns and expectations with me. Read this blog, as I take you through my journey.
I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a daughter-in-law, a teacher, a cook, a yoga enthusiast, a homemaker, an interior decorator, and a cosmetic and plastic surgeon also…. Just like any other woman on this planet…and this is my story.
My Professional Journey
My father - an advocate, a teacher, a hard taskmaster, and a perfectionist to the core and my mother - a loving homemaker, a brilliant seamstress, and a master crafter, sowed the seed and nurtured the ambition of becoming a doctor in my mind. And so I did.
As I was studying to be a doctor, I had the opportunity to do a stint in Surgery. When I visited the operating room for the first time, I knew this is where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.
My first day of Surgery Residency was a memorable one. I was filled with joy and excitement for the future. With my parents' blessings, I entered a new environment full of possibilities. I was confident that my hard work and determination would help me achieve success in this field. As I made my way to the hostel, it felt like the start of a new journey.
First day of Surgery Residency leaving for the hostel
I went on to become a surgeon and then a Plastic Surgeon. Blessed with my mother’s artistic genes, Plastic Surgery was a natural progression from surgery because this branch of surgery is a beautiful amalgamation of science and art and it gives wings to my creative instincts allowing me to do the same with human bodies… make them look beautiful!!
It was no small task to set up a dept of Plastic Surgery in a corporate hospital and be the first lady plastic surgeon of this city of destiny. But the love and help from the people of Vizag saw me through. And it was this love and trust that always spurred me on to give my best.
I started doing microvascular surgery routinely and set up the first Burns ICU in Vizag.
As I continued with my reconstructive work, where I did tendon transfers and flaps, managed burns, treated complex trauma, and birth defects, I realized that I needed to provide Cosmetic services to the people of Vizag. I trained myself in Cosmetic Surgery with Dr. KS Bhangoo in New York and Professor Pitanguy in Brazil and started performing all the cosmetic surgeries like breast augmentation/reduction, liposuction, tummy tuck, nose job, and the list goes on. I strongly believe that everyone has the right to look beautiful and I should use my skills to help them do just that!
Every day I wake up with a renewed sense of purpose and determination to make a difference in the lives of my patients.
A Glimpse Into My Morning Routine
My day starts with 10-15 minutes of meditation. Meditation is the perfect start to a long day as it helps me keep my mind stable and keeps me calm before a challenging day at work. This is followed by sitting in my small balcony garden under the warmth of the morning sun. These moments with my plants get me recharged, and geared for the day ahead.
My Sanctuary for Reflection and Renewal
My garden plants, however, cannot substitute the plants on the slopes of Darjeeling… and my kitchen beckons me for the morning brew! A cup of refreshing morning tea rejuvenates me and my nerves and I am ready to don the role of a mother, wife, and daughter-in-law getting the breakfast ready for the family. Breakfast is usually a simple healthy meal, but my aesthetic surgery instincts help me to give it a lovely aesthetic touch.
I proudly refer to my kitchen as a “reconstructive kitchen” where just as I use the muscle of the back to cover the leg wound in my reconstructive surgery, the leftover pudina chutney finds its way in the patties and the leftover long beans sabji becomes the heart of a hitherto unnamed paratha!!
With my nouveau collegian off to his college, it’s time for a quick morning walk to get the much-needed Vitamin D either to the nearby Waltair Club or down to the beach.
Nurturing Wellness Through Yoga
Yoga under the keen watchful guidance of my revered guru Ravishankarji followed by pranayama for an hour in the evening is something I always look forward to, it keeps me physically, mentally, and emotionally sound and gears me up for the evening session in the hospital!!
A Day in the Operating Room
The OR is actually only the final step of a long journey that begins in the consulting room where I try to understand what the patient desires and decide whether I will be able to deliver the desired results. The consultation is followed by a lot of meticulous planning …in fact, it would not be wrong to say that the surgical result will only be as good as the preoperative planning that goes into it!! In Plastic Surgery, no problem has only one solution, and all these options are discussed with the team and the patient before zeroing in on the final option.
Planning a Rhinoplasty
In the Operating Room
Once in the OR, I would say this is truly a place where the magic happens. There is nothing to beat the finesse of doing surgery at 10 times the magnification. It also is a place where teamwork is supreme. The surgery is not possible without a good anesthesia team and good support staff. I am truly fortunate to have a great team in my OR which makes work feel like fun! Dr. Sumitra always has her critical inputs during any surgery and she does not allow me to accept a mediocre result. She goads me to go on till we both are satisfied even if it means redoing all the steps multiple times. Whether it is OR boy Adi’s quiet background adjustments of the temperature, lights, and cautery machine, Monica’s pleasant smile, Aruna and Sundari sister’s immaculate assistance, or Dr. Kuchelababu’s adjustments in anesthesia at a crucial step of the surgery, every person has his/her own place in the team without which the surgical orchestra cannot be melodious!!
The operation theater is where you learn endurance and patience, and at the same time, it teaches you to make quick decisions and think on your feet. It also teaches you to accept complications and find solutions for them. An engrossing long surgery is also nothing less than a Zen session!!
Being a doctor is not just about working long hours in the OR but it is also important to maintain balance in one’s personal and professional life.
How I Balance Work and Personal Life
I think this is an aspect that everyone needs to work out on their own — a “balance between work and family”. I have been particularly lucky on that front both in my parents’ house and after marriage as well. I was born into a conservative Sindhi family who had to leave behind their culture and home after partition and settle in a foreign land. I think it is that indomitable Sindhi spirit I have imbibed that has seen me through all the ups and downs of life. My father always emphasized the importance of education, being one of the most sought-after advocates himself. My mother who was an epitome of grace always wanted me to become a doctor, and although she did not live to see her dream being fulfilled, I feel her guiding hand every time I do a meticulous eyelid surgery or a beautiful body contouring. My sister, who heads the overseas HR department of one of India’s largest companies has taught me how to remain stoic even in the face of adversity and my brother has shown me how to always look at the positive side of life and smile!
My Family in Vizag
I have learned the art of acceptance from my parents-in-law, who have always lovingly treated me as their daughter. My best friend who also happens to be my husband has taught me varied things from something as simple as driving to something as complex as financial jargon and who continues to inspire me to do my best!! My sons who make me feel like I’m the most beautiful lady on this planet with their unconditional love and my lovely friends who accept me at my worst times have taught me how to enjoy and live life to the fullest.
I strongly feel that it is important to invest in solid personal relationships because it is these relationships that teach you empathy and gratitude. In fact, it is these multiple aspects of one’s personality that help one cope with the various challenges that life throws. I have gained loads of experience just seeing my parents or my in-laws deal with the many situations they have been in and that experience in turn shapes how I deal with my children, my friends, my extended family in hospital, and the society at large.
Giving Back to Society
Rural posting after MBBS at Jawhar village
I managed to get accredited by the Smile Train organization, a US-based NGO, to provide free service to underprivileged children born with clefts. I have been associated with Smile Train for the past 18 years now and have operated on more than 3000 kids from poor socioeconomic backgrounds with cleft lip and palate free of cost and rehabilitated them back into society.
Time and again, I was asked whether I had chosen my branch right. But the smile on a mother’s face as she lovingly looked at her child who had just recovered from a cleft lip surgery, or the pride with which a father sent a video of the stage performance of his daughter (who was operated for cleft palate) effortlessly singing a Carnatic classical song… the smiles on these children’s faces and the gratitude of their parents truly make me feel humbled and proud at the same time. It feels truly gratifying to see these children scale great heights, unhindered by the deformity fate had written for them.
A mail from a patient who told me how her confidence had soared after the breast reduction surgery and now she headed a company and at times a gentleman who told me that he was thankful for saving his wife from the accidental burns that she had sustained and a young worker who could get back to work and earn his daily bread for his family after a successful replantation of his hand which was cut in two at the machine.. makes me turn around and stand proudly and announce to the world that I am at the right place doing the right thing…Making a change in my own small way!
My journey as a plastic surgeon has been eventful. However, I am quite aware that my success is a result of all the people who have believed in me and helped me along the way. I appreciate you coming with me on this journey and look forward to continuing to provide quality care to those who need it.
If you have any queries or want to consider plastic surgery, feel free to contact me. I am here to help you through your transformation.