Consultant Mr David Oliver talks to Dartmouth Lifestyle and discusses the options available for cosmetic surgery and how he likes to spend his spare time…
I was appointed as Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital and Torbay Hospital nearly 10 years ago.
I have been practising in reconstructive breast surgery, including micro-surgical breast reconstruction in my NHS practice and have also been working in the independent sector, both in Exeter and Mount Stuart Hospital in Torquay; this has included all areas of cosmetic surgery, comprising facial, breast and body contouring surgery.
I am the Chairman of the Specialist Training Committee for overseeing the training of Plastic Surgeons in the South West. I am also a member of the Peninsular Network for the treatment of skin cancers. I am a full member of the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) and the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS).
Having a cosmetic procedure of any kind is a big decision – how do you help your patients through the first step?
I think with any patient making a decision to undergo cosmetic surgery or any procedure which is not essential for their physical health, then the key to this process is information and consent. Only by explaining in detail the likely outcome of surgery, and any possible risks, complications or side effects, can a patient make a decision which can be regarded as an informed consent.
This reflects GMC guidelines on best surgical practice. There should be no pressure from any surgeon or provider to encourage patients to have surgery as this is a decision they must make on their own when they have had a full explanation of everything which is involved. Importantly, this discussion must be with the surgeon who will perform the procedure.
What would you say to anyone contemplating cosmetic surgery? – there has been a lot of media attention recently, both positive and negative, which is confusing for potential clients.
Attention from the media can be both positive and negative. The cosmetic surgery industry has been unregulated for far too long and it is generally the unregulated side of cosmetic surgery, in particular the injectable treatments, that have come under increasing scrutiny and rightly so.
There has also been considerable publicity with regard to the PIP breast implant scandal and obviously legislation may be brought in to increase the regulation of manufacturers of any medical device.
Why did you choose this specialty?
Plastic surgery is a highly variable specialisation. Procedures range hugely in complexity from operations involving highly complex micro-surgical techniques to relatively straightforward excision of skin lesions.
Plastic surgery also involves all areas of the body, all sections of the community, including the very young and very old. Plastic surgery is the most general of all the surgical specialties in this regard. The ability to use experience and surgical techniques, tailored to each individual’s problem, is the challenge in plastic surgery in order to achieve the optimum outcome for each patient.
This range of procedures and variability was one of the main attractions to the specialty as no case is ever exactly the same as the one before or after it.
How do you manage the obviously stressful lifestyle?
A situation is only stressful if an individual is unable to cope with the stresses and strains placed upon them. With good training, experience and a good team around you, including anaesthetist colleagues, nursing staff and office staff then there is no reason for the job to be stressful.
Most patients do not want to see stress in any healthcare professional, as this undermines confidence and really nobody should be doing a job which they find too stressful. As in all walks of life a little stress can focus the attention but too much stress will start to negatively impact on performance and can be avoided with good training and experience.
What about relaxing away from medicine?
Living in this part of the West Country there are so many activities to do in away from work such as sailing, kayaking and enjoying the outdoors so there is plenty to do to get away from medicine. The coastline from the Exe estuary across to Torbay and Dartmouth are all my favourite locations, particularly for sailing.
Now we have a first class rugby team with Exeter Chiefs, there is also premiership rugby to watch.
There are also fantastic restaurants and the emergence of new micro-breweries in the region can only add to the attractions.