Masters of Their Trade

| March 4, 2013 | 1 Comment

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When I hear the words “Plastic Surgery” they conjur up images of boob jobs, face lifts, tummy tucks and of course, celebrities searching for some everlasting youth! But it is, honestly, not something I have ever considered for myself and I guess I have just always associated it with vanity.

Anyone who knows me personally would certainly not consider me vain (I don’t think so anyway!) so when I read stories of famous (or not so) people going “under the knife” it seems so far from my own reality. But when I was asked to go and meet with John and Leanne Masters of Plastic Surgical Masters (PSM) in Wellington to talk to them about their services I must say I was more than a little intrigued. I mean how often do you get to sit down to chat about the specifics of surgical procedures and get a private tour of their facilities?

One thing I was really interested to find out is that Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery are NOT one and the same and John, who is a Specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, was quick to point it out.

“Unfortunately in New Zealand any doctor can call themself a cosmetic surgeon, however only doctors who have a recognised postgraduate qualification (six years plus of extra training) can call themselves a Plastic Surgeon.”

So what is the difference?

“Plastic surgery is primarily a surgical specialty dedicated to the remoulding and reshaping of tissues in order to reconstruct the patient’s natural form and function. Cosmetic surgery is a specific subsection of plastic surgery dedicated to the aesthetic improvement of patients.”

So how can you tell if some one is a qualified Plastic Surgeon? Johns advice is to “ask if they have the qualification FRACS (Plast) after their name, that determines whether they are qualified or not!”

[FRACS stands for Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. Which means vocational training in plastic and reconstructive surgery is undertaken through the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS). Once RACS training is completed, the doctor is awarded the Fellowship of the RACS (FRACS) in plastic and reconstructive surgery.]

Apparently the popularity of surgery is on the rise in New Zealand and not necessarily amongst the rish list, and most likely not because “everyone” is talking about it. Certainly there are those that are trying to turn back the clock, or appear more attractive to a partner but I firmly stand in the camp of “if they don’t like me for you I am inside they aren’t worth knowing”. This was reinforced when my Mum said to me as a young girl getting a “styled” haircut at a groovy salon “You will never get a boyfriend if you don’t have a styled cut!” (got to love her, sorry Mum!) I was quite the tomboy and she has never lived that one down!

But I can certainly see myself in the “I want to do it for me” camp, and that definitely seems more REAL. And these are the clients that John and Leanne Masters are seeing more of. They specialise in facial rejuvenation surgery and body contouring procedures such as liposuction and tummy tucks (abdominoplasty) and four years ago they stopped performing any breast surgery to accommodate the requests from regular patients for non-surgical rejuvenation treatments such as Botox and injectables. But as John explains “the most common procedures are minor facial alterations such as upper eyelid reductions, cheek volumisation, rhinoplasty, liposuction and tummy tucks.”

Hmm, tummy tuck… I would be a perfect candidate for one of those after two pregnancies have left me with an extra spare tyre! I must say that the book of before and after photos they showed me were fascinating.


Above: Examples of a facelift (top) and chin implant (bottom).

Above: Examples of Abdominoplasty (top) and Circumferential (bottom) tummy tucks, common for the post-birth “Mummy Tummy” or after significant weight loss.

The Surgical Masters professional rooms on Thorndon Quay, created in a completely refurbished warehouse space, feels more like a high-end beauty spa than a clincal medical office and Leanne, John’s wife who herself is a specialist surgical nurse and the practice’s lead surgical assistant, is there to give you the warmest of welcomes. They both made me feel comfortable and relaxed as soon as I arrived. It is obvious they take pride in individualised, patient-focussed care.



Above: PSM’s reception and treatment rooms.

Dr John Masters FRACS is one of New Zealand’s leading plastic surgeons, and has been based in Wellington since 2003. His surgical expertise was learned from the world’s best. After completing his 14 years of training to become a Specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, he sought out and worked alongside some of the top plastic surgeons in the world.

I asked John why he decided to become a plastic surgeon?

“Honestly, the plastic surgical training program is recognised as one of the toughest to get on and the challenge intrigued me. As soon as I started preparing for the selection program I was hooked. In NZ you have to be selected to go on the program, I was fortunate enough to be selected in my first year that I applied, at the time, only one candidate was selected per year.”

John believes the topic of plastic surgery is no longer a taboo subject. He says “the reality is that it is now a very common thing to have done and is widely accepted. Things like non surgical fillers and Botox, non-surgical procedures, are now commonly seen as routine self improvement things that we regularly perform. Many patients view these as standard maintenance treatments such as dying your hair, or having hair removal. It is more the norm than abnormal, however some patients still prefer not to tell friends that they are doing this, just as some don’t tell that they are getting their teeth whitened, are seeing a personal trainer or on a diet, etc.”

So as I mentioned plastic surgery isn’t really my reality, or so I thought, but what type of people are having surgery?

“People seek surgery for the areas of their body that they perceived as being slightly unusual or abnormal and they are seeking it to be returned to a more normal looking form. Also commonly mentioned is the fact that when they look in the mirror that they don’t see the person that they are feeling inside, and don’t like the aging that is occurring when inside they still feel younger.”

Yep, I can relate to that!

I asked if they were seeing clients come to them before, during or after a major life event?

“This is not an uncommon finding or is it necessarily a bad thing. For instance many people consider having a minor procedure for many years before proceeding and often an impending birthday signalling a change of decade will be the final prompt. ”

John goes on to explain: “When it becomes apparent that people are having surgery in response to a major life event such as the separation from or death of a partner, then we exercise far more caution about accepting them as a patient, often the best thing to do is to acknowledge their concerns, but also discuss our concerns and encourage them to delay until we know they are in a better personal space for making such important decisions. Often the recovery from surgery is tolerated a lot better when they are in the right frame of mind and not stressing about other things rather than focusing on their rest and relaxation to let the body repair during the recovery phase.”

I like that they think about what is best for their clients, that is their “patient-focussed care” coming out again.

John and Leanne are also seeing a trend emerging, “people are seeking interventions at a slightly earlier stage and plan a series of interspersed minor procedures rather than one dramatic large procedure. With the pace of people’s lives and their other personal commitments most patients cannot take prolonged periods of time from work and family commitments for an extended recovery period.”

So IF I decided I wanted to do something about my spare tyre what kind of experience could I expect from PSM?

“You should feel appreciated and understood throughout your plastic surgical journey. We aim to take the mystery and tension out of seeking both information and a procedure. At every stage you should feel informed and in control, rather than confused and unsure. We provide a lot of information on our website so that you can come in with a basic understanding and to help you formulate questions prior to your consultation. Then at least one more consultation is usual prior to any surgical invention so that you are in the right space and completely aware of your surgical plan and the anticipated recovery time frame for getting back to work, exercise, etc.”

Procedures, at PSM, start from as little as $200 for Botox but for an extensive body or face-lifting procedure the cost may head towards $30,000 plus. Their most common procedure though is upper eyelid surgery which usually starts from around $3,500. But John says the recovery period is an important “cost” to consider where the patient “will often be off work and prefer not to be seen by the extended family and friends; this can be as short as a day or two through to several weeks.”

To end I asked John and Leanne if they had any final advice to those considering have a procedure done: “Be comfortable with your surgeon (and the practice) you are seeing. Check the surgeon’s credentials. Make sure you completely understand that the proposed procedure and its aims, before having it. And finally, talk about your plans with at least one trusted family member or friend – you will be surprised by the support that they will give you and how much easier the journey becomes.”

For more information on the procedures performed by Plastic Surgical Masters you can check out their website.

Or call to talk to them direct on (04) 499-4779 or (0800) 499-4779.

Level 2, 202 Thorndon Quay, Wellington, New Zealand.

So would/have you considered any surgical or non-surgical procedures?

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Category: Health & Beauty

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  1. Ceara says:

    I would definitely consider something to sort out the skin on my face, and fix my belly button which is a little weird ever since I had my son, just wish I was in Wellington!!

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