Dr Mark Magnusson, Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon based at Toowoomba Plastic Surgery in Queensland is a family man. He has 5 (yes, 5!) children and loves surfing and cycling. Born in Sydney and travelling a lot as a young child with a father in the army, he, by his own admission, is an obsessive “pain in the arse!” which is useful for getting his predictably high quality results from surgery, but can be difficult to live with! We scored a Q & A with the ex-President of the Queensland branch of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and current Vice President of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic (Cosmetic) Plastic Surgeons.
PSH: What inspired you to be a surgeon?
MM: I always enjoyed drawing and art from a young age and the restoration of normal form associated with reconstructive surgery was greatly appealing and just felt like a good fit.
Transitioning towards cosmetic surgery and nonsurgical treatments is a logical expansion from a solid reconstructive base. Most cosmetic procedures are developed from reconstructive operations that have reached a level of predictability that their application can be expanded to deal with ageing change rather than trauma, deformity or surgical change such as cancer removal.
PSH: When did you first start practicing as a plastic surgeon?
MM: I first started my training as a registrar in plastic surgery in 1994, on the training program itself in 96 and completed my training at the end of 1999. 10 years after graduating from medical school. At that time I was in Perth, remained there for about six months before travelling overseas to expand my experience. I have been in Toowoomba since January 2001.
PSH: Please tell us your most interesting experience with a plastic surgery procedure?
MM: The procedure that sticks in my mind most vividly occurred when I was working in Glasgow. At that time there was a batch of dirty drugs floating around and young addicts were “muscle popping”. Injecting into the muscles because they had no veins left. There were a string of unfortunate patients who developed necrotising fasciitis associated with this and there were quite a number of deaths. One patient I was involved with required the amputation of her dominant right arm in an effort to get beyond the infection to save her life. While that isn’t “interesting”, it is certainly my most vivid memory in over 20 years of plastic surgery.
PSH: What has been your biggest career milestone to date?
MM: In October I was made president of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, ASAPS. It is humbling to be recognised and representing my colleagues in this way.
PSH: You perform many different cosmetic surgery procedures, which is your favourite and why?
MM: The mummy makeover. This is the combination of an abdominoplasty with other procedures, most commonly breast surgery but can also involve arm reduction, thigh reduction or facial surgery.
Pregnancy creates real changes to the body. While it is important to love the skin we are in, many of these changes come with real physical symptoms and this is most clearly demonstrated with large breasts and the separation of the abdominal muscles that occurs with pregnancy. In these instances patients get back pain, chronic rashes and even changes to their ability to control their bladder. Appropriately selected surgery is associated with a dramatic improvement in these symptoms and there is a mountain of scientific literature which demonstrates improvements in quality of life. In addition there are pleasing changes to the appearance that come with it. The excitement and gratitude that patients display is humbling.
PSH: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
MM: Seeing the positive influence that will selected and executed procedures can make for appropriate patients. There is a substantial potential to improve the quality of life under these circumstances.
PSH: What advice would you give someone looking to undergo major cosmetic surgery?
MM: A large cosmetic surgical procedure is the same as any large operation with risks and benefits. There are three elements to its success, selecting a procedure that is going to achieve the patient’s goal, a technically well performed procedure and a controlled recovery period.
For many procedures there are options. Different procedures will achieve different outcomes for example coolsculpting, liposuction, mini abdominoplasty, abdominoplasty and body lift can all change the shape of the tummy. Some will be simpler and others more complex and selecting the appropriate one is often made by working out what your goal is and then determining which procedure is going to be required to reach that.
A technically well performed procedure is going to be one performed in an appropriate accredited facility by a well-trained specialist plastic surgeon with a cosmetic surgery practice. A membership of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons is a good indicator.
Recovering from any operation involves an appropriate modification of activities, time off work and assistance at home depending on the operation. You need to also be able to commit to the recovery period because in some circumstances a well performed procedure can come unstuck by an uncontrolled recovery. When these three aspects are aligned, the outcome is maximised and the risks are minimised.
PSH: What advice would you give a minor under the age of 18 and looking to undergo cosmetic surgery?
MM: In Queensland, cosmetic surgery is not allowable in minors and I think that is appropriate.
There are procedures such as breast reduction surgery that are associated with substantial symptoms and others such as breast asymmetry or breast deformity that are not considered cosmetic surgery. These have item numbers and are appropriately considered reconstructive procedures. These procedures are performed on patients under the age of 18 when appropriately selected.
Puberty and adolescence are a troublesome time for many and there is not a lot of life experience to draw upon. Cosmetic surgery does make people more popular and it will not improve friendships or relationships. The most important relationships you have are not dependent upon appearance and the most important of these are family. The good news is that adolescence passes and adulthood can be a little easier. As hard as it may seem, there are times when we need to embrace the skin we are in.
PSH: Do you provide support for patients after surgery?
MM: Follow-up appointments are free of charge, we have 24-hour phone contact and clear written instructions after any procedure to outline what we expect of the recovery period so that people know when they are deviating from normal.
40% of our patients are from more than 100 km away and we have established care paths with a reliance on digital communication when necessary so that distance doesn’t mean a lack of care.
Dr Mark Magnusson is a highly respected cosmetic plastic surgeon based in Queensland. If you are interested in arranging a consult to see how he can help you, click here.