Get to Know Manaf Khatib | Consultant Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon
Read more about Consultant Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon, Manaf Khatib's goals, patient experiences and outlook for healthcare in the future.
Written by Chloe Gale
Medical Review by Chief Commercial Officer, Dr. Lizzie Tuckey , MBBS, BA
Published: Tuesday, 15 March 2022
What attracted you to Medbelle?
I saw an excellent opportunity to work with an experienced company that is able to facilitate a great patient journey. This allows me to focus more on my patients' needs, the clinical aspects, rather than all the other elements of cosmetic surgery like the logistics, organisation and administration.
What would you say is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is that I get to make a difference in people’s lives. Surgery can make drastic changes to people’s physical and mental wellbeing and it’s lovely to see patients satisfied with surgical outcomes - often they’ve waited for some time to make these changes and I like that they are often so happy not only in the long term but even immediately after surgery.
Do you have a specific patient memory or an experience that sticks in your mind?
Yes, I have many for cosmetic surgery as well as reconstructive surgery.
For the reconstructive side, there are many memories about patient gratitude following life or limb-saving surgery or for surgery following complex cancer cases.
On the cosmetic surgery side, one that sticks to my mind is one patient who had a breast reduction. She was so happy after the surgery that she went around the clinic hugging everyone and crying tears of happiness; she ended up giving all the staff gifts because she was so delighted with the outcome.
What are your biggest challenges, and how do you overcome them?
In a professional setting, the biggest challenge is managing expectations with patients and then ensuring that I achieve the results we have discussed as closely as I can. In these cases, it is always important to communicate clearly and set expectations that balance what is reasonable to achieve with what the patients want.
But personally, there are also challenges, particularly in trying to maintain a good work-life balance. Especially with a young family, it is about making sure I don’t miss out on the important milestones or events in my children’s lives while pursuing and continuing my busy career.
How does digitisation change your job?
I’m personally very in favour of digitisation, particularly regarding the move towards more electronic patient records. Also, e-consultations and virtual consultations are really important components of digitisation, which you can now see more and more.
It’s good because it is more efficient for patients and surgeons. Having everything well documented and centralised is far easier for everyone involved. It shows that healthcare is going along with the development of many other industries experiencing digitisation.
What's one thing that you wish everyone knew about plastic surgery?
It’s not just what you see on TV. There is so much to plastic surgery, it encompasses surgery from head to toe, for adults and children, for men and women. Plastic surgery includes everything from cleft lip and palate surgery to complex cancer reconstructions, from burn surgery to cosmetic surgery, from elective to emergency trauma surgery. So, I think many people don’t know exactly how broad plastic surgery is.
Where do you see healthcare in 10 years time?
Well quite often, healthcare is not the most fast-moving sector compared to other industries. There is a lot of due diligence that needs to happen and evidence-based medicine requires much discussion to implement changes.
But I do see that healthcare will move even more towards digitisation and more virtual consultations to improve the patient experience - at the moment, patients are sometimes required to travel hours to and from a consultation, so digitising and really help the patients as well as the surgeons.
Why did you choose to become a plastic surgeon?
For me, it started at medical school. I always knew I wanted to be a surgeon, and initially, I wanted to be a head and neck surgeon. But then, purely by chance, I was allocated to the plastic surgery rotation. At the time, I had this misconception of what plastic surgery was. But I quickly learned more and became more intrigued. We operated on children, adults and the elderly, from head to toe, and doing highly skilled, finessed and aesthetically demanding surgery, as well as very demanding reconstructive surgery and microsurgery - which has become one of my major fields of interest. I was drawn to it by how varied the work is and because it is such a broad speciality.
Learn more about Manaf's experience, training and specialities here.
Any advice for students wanting to be plastic surgeons?
Yes, in fact, I gave a lecture to medical students at Imperial College a few weeks ago about careers in plastic surgery! And my advice to them and to all other students would be that before pursuing a career in plastic surgery, you must know the demands of the job, from both a physical and a mental point of view. People should be aware of the time and the sacrifice it takes. Also, everyone should gain as much experience during medical school and pursue electives and special study modules where they can fully immerse themselves in the speciality and know for sure if it's something they want to do.
It might look good with all the glitz and glamour from an outside perspective, but there are many aspects which are very draining. Often we operate out of hours, which lots of people don’t want to do. My advice would be: do electives, do projects with the right departments and hospitals, observe clinicians and professionals, ask questions and make sure you get the full picture.
What could be done in the healthcare industry to make it better for all patients?
We must continue to increase the focus on patient safety. Particularly improve the public awareness of the importance of full trained plastic surgeons as opposed to the untrained self-proclaimed surgeons.
In Australia and the US, there is a wider knowledge of the importance of surgeon qualifications which gives the patients an understanding and knowledge that their surgeons are fully qualified and trained plastic surgeons that are accredited by the right surgical bodies. We need more awareness like that in the UK, and people should be more aware of the possible risks.
Also, there is lots of unregulated non-surgical aesthetics work in the UK, for example with botox and fillers. These are widely available, and technically, anyone can administer them, even without any medical qualifications. I strongly advise people to not go to untrained professionals who might not understand the anatomy or the risks or how to treat complications.
Unfortunately, the government’s position is quite weak on this matter, despite lobbying from organisations like BAAPS and other medical bodies to try and regulate the industry. The UK is lagging behind at the moment, but perhaps in time and with further lobbying, we can follow in the footsteps of other European countries in banning the use of injectables from non-medically trained professionals.
And finally, I still see lots of cosmetic surgery tourism that puts patients at risk. There are brilliant surgeons across the globe. However, patients need to not underestimate surgery and the importance of aftercare. Recently, I had a patient in the ward who had just come back from surgery abroad and was experiencing multiple complications. Patients need to be operated on in a facility that offers excellent aftercare and follow-ups with their surgeon, because whilst complications can happen anywhere, you need to be sure that the complications can be managed by your surgeon appropriately and in a timely fashion.
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