What exactly is a Maxillofacial surgeon?
Maxillofacial surgery is a surgical specialty recognised by the General Medical Council – one of nine. In order to qualify and practice, the surgeon will have undertaken a degree in both Medicine and Dentistry before undertaking higher surgical training. This training takes about 20 years from the day you enter university for the first time.
The training, in what is essentially a small surgical specialty, means quite a lot of moving around. During the 20 years I worked in Liverpool, London, Cambridge, Cardiff, Birmingham, Swindon and Portsmouth but not forgetting time overseas in Holland, Hong Kong and the USA.
How did you come to be a facial plastic surgeon?
During training as a maxillofacial surgeon several different areas of surgical practice are undertaken and taught. This ranges from facial trauma (cuts to the face and broken bones of the face), to the management of cancer of the mouth, jaws, neck and facial skin (head and neck surgery) and the management of facial deformity.
A maxillofacial surgeon has insight into the management of all types of disease around the head and neck and many of these surgical procedures are called plastic surgery. Hence the term facial plastic surgeon refers to a surgeon who undertakes reconstructive surgery around the face. They will only operate around the face and do not undertake general plastic surgery to the trunk, limbs etc. A facial plastic surgeon’s entire practice is surgery around the head and neck.
What do you love most about your job?
It’s great to meet lots of different people and help them. The role is varied from making a diagnosis in out-patients and explaining to a patient the effects (and risks) of surgery. Then there is the operation which allows surgeons the opportunity to use not just their brains but their hands. The final outcome can be emotional for the patients (and surgeon) whether that be a extremely pleased patient with a new shaped nose or giving a cancer patient results that indicate that a tumour has been removed successfully. The job is very rewarding in many different ways.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
What spare time? But seriously, I am a sport fanatic. I play golf and used to play cricket and football before the joints seized up! I am a member of MCC and played club cricket for years, including playing for Cheshire at all levels including one game for the senior team. Football was a passion until my career took over, playing for Liverpool University and senior amateur football. I played against Liverpool FC and Everton FC several times while at university. More recently, I have been a season ticket holder at Portsmouth FC and have treated several of their players. I have visited the dressing room many times to put stitches into wounds and to see broken bones, even at Wembley on FA Cup final day. Just recently I became a director of Salisbury City FC who play (at the moment) in the Blue Square South League.
I also enjoy horse racing. I am a regular attender at the Cheltenham Festival and don my top hat and tails for Royal Ascot every year. I have a share in two racehorses. One has been very successful with Brian Meehan winning the Caesarewitch at Newmarket twice (which has never been done before). Aaim to Prosper has also run at Royal Ascot.
My other passion is motor racing. I competed myself in Formula Ford in my 20s but still watch Formula One whenever I can. I once was passed by Aryton Senna at Oulton Park – why does that surprise the reader! Outside the sport I have two grandsons who I try to see as much as possible and Digger our cocker spaniel needs regular walks on the Downs.
What was the last book you read?
I am currently reading a history of the Dam Busters.
You are stuck on a desert island for a week, heaven or hell?
A week would be heaven, but I’m afraid it would be hell for much more than that.
What three items would you take with you?
In this day and age I couldn’t live without WiFi and my iPad. I’d also take plenty of music and a toothbrush!
Where is your favourite holiday destination?
The Caribbean, I like all the islands but I have to been to St Lucia the most. Mauritius comes a close second.
What do you feel is your greatest achievement in life?
It would be becoming a Dad. But I did want to be a surgeon before I was 10-years-old, so I guess I am proud of my career pathway too.
What is your favourite type of food?
It would be Italian.