I’m so lucky in that every day I get to meet new, interesting, humble, and amazing practitioners, clinics, doctors, surgeons, and plastic surgeons. Today I have the pleasure of getting to know all about Dr Matthew Peters – Combining artistry with technical skill. He’s a Specialist Plastic Surgeon from Valley Plastic Surgery in Brisbane and I believe he is a standout. He runs a successful business and is a family man with 4 children. Today he shares his “why”.
Trish Hammond: Good evening podcasters. I’m here again today with Dr. Matthew Peters.
Now, Dr. Matthew Peters is a plastic reconstructive surgeon from Valley Plastic Surgery. They are based in Fortitude Valley, in Brisbane. So welcome Dr. Peters.
Matthew Peters: Thanks for having me.
Trish Hammond: Thank you so much for coming along. I know you’ve had a really busy day, so thanks. It’s the end of the day here now, so I bet you’re dying to go home. I just wanted to give everyone a little bit of an intro about you because I’ve been having a bit of a chat and doing a bit of snooping around and finding out about you, but what actually inspired you to become a plastic surgeon?
Matthew Peters: I considered lots of different things when I was initially at med school, and I I went through sort of the initial basic surgical training rounds, and I did a term in plastic surgery, and I just really enjoyed it. I had a couple of very supportive senior surgeons who said to me that I should consider it. Based on that, I had a further look, and I just really enjoyed the accuracy, and the need to be attentive to detail, need to be quite creative with what you’re doing, and when I was considering that, and where I’d been, and what my interests were throughout high school and in med school and stuff like that, it just seemed like a good fit. I’m really glad that I did choose it. It’s worked out. I’ve got nice patients. I have to be quite creative with what I do, and I have to be very particular with how I do it. It’s a very enjoyable vocation.
Trish Hammond: Yeah. Well, one thing that’s become clear to me because I’m like your typical patient, I had no idea, but you do have to be artistic in what you do. It’s not just about knowing how to cut and sew things together. There’s actually a whole element of art related to it, so it has to be something that you’re passionate about as well, hey?
Matthew Peters: Massively so. I did art all through high school, med school, and I’ve continued with bits here and there. Patients that come to my room see the art all over the room walls, actually. It’s something that I’m really into and it is a really big part of what we do. Being spacial and thinking in 3D and thinking about pathetic norms and what looks good, and how things should look. Tying that back to art and being creative is a big thing. And, again, going back to what was I was saying before about choosing plastic surgery, I didn’t realise how much that is part of it, but it just is. And being interested in it has made it very enjoyable.
Trish Hammond: Yeah, yeah, I bet. It’s one of the common threads I see, is the fact that you are a real artist. You just do it with your knife instead of with your easel, I guess.
Matthew Peters: Yeah, very much like.
Trish Hammond: I know you’ve got a young family, but when you were young yourself, where did you grow up? Where did you actually do your study?
Matthew Peters: I’ve grown up in Brisbane and I did all of my high school. I did a bachelor of science and then I went to medicine at the University of Queensland. Then started work at PA Hospital and working through all the hospitals in Brisbane doing basic surgical training and then advanced surgical training in general surgery. Then I went into plastic surgery. It’s all been in Brisbane throughout, which has been beneficial because the patients that I see now, are presenting with problems that I trained in. I’ve been overseas and done sort of observances and other bits and pieces here and there to learn other techniques, and I’ve been interstate as well. And brought those back to Brisbane to use, but the majority of my time has all been local.
Trish Hammond: And I know that you do lots of different procedures, but which one is actually your favourite? And can you tell us why?
Matthew Peters: Much of my practise is aesthetic breast surgery and breast reconstruction post cancer. And I do a lot of body contouring work and I think out of all of that breast reconstruction surgery is one of most enjoyable ones. Patients present with a real problem. Both sort of physically but also mentally, and there’s quite a bit of history behind that when they present. And it’s a clever operation. I didn’t design it obviously, but the people that did were smart. It’s conceptually hard to get around at times, it’s good to get a nice result that the patient is happy with, and it makes a really big difference to them physically, so the long term satisfaction is really heartening.
Trish Hammond: Yeah, well that’s how plastic surgery … I had the breast reduction, it’s true, it’s just so life changing over and above anything else I’ve ever had done. Like that is the most life changing … it’s true everybody like it’s pretty hard to speak to someone who’s not really appreciative and doesn’t love having had that surgery.
Matthew Peters: Yeah, and that’s the interesting about it because if you talk to people about … if you talk to a lot of men who don’t actually understand why someone would go through that, just talk to the women and the benefits are enormous. I think that’s why I do it. It’s technically very interesting, but the benefit that women present wanting to go through that surgery, and them actually realising that benefit long term from that investment in time is really awesome to be part of.
Trish Hammond: So true. Sounds like you’ve been talking to my husband, cause it’s like why would you want that done? But until you’re lugging them around you don’t know.
Matthew Peters: Yeah, it’s-
Trish Hammond: Yeah, go on, sorry. Were you finishing something before I rudely interrupted you?
Matthew Peters: No that’s fine.
Trish Hammond: Okay, cool, cool. I was going to ask you, so I know that one of the big things that we’re getting inquiries about at the moment is pre and post surgery for patients. And I know that you provide an excellent service for pre and post surgery. Can you just tell us a little bit about what support you and your clinic provide for your patients pre and post surgery?
Matthew Peters: Yeah, so before surgery obviously … we got a big practise and there’s me, and we spend lots of time talking, or I spend lots of time talking with the patient about what their concern is and depending on what that is there’s often a need for further consultation just to work through decisions, things we need to think about, and just to go over aspects of the surgery again. So we catch up lots.
I’ve got eight excellent nurses who are part of those interactions as well in terms of talking other aspects of recovery and photos and garments and all sorts of support things that they need to be aware of so I’ve got a good team to help out before surgery there.
When it comes to the operation, catching up with the patient on the day, and working through things again, confirming plans, last minute checks about questions, queries, and then the postoperative period, whether they be in the hospital, I see all of my patients every day. And when they go home they all have my mobile phone number. I think that’s really important. When I first started in private practise had one patient who went through a hospital switchboard to find me after hours and that just didn’t seem right. So I make sure that every patient has my phone number so they can contact me directly. And I just don’t want people to be out there in the wilderness being stressed, so I like them to have a lifeline.
And yeah, that’s how I like to run my practise. I like to be available, I like people to feel free to send me text messages or a ring or you know touch base at the room so that we can catch up and go through things again, or just look at little problems if they arise. I stress that I want to know about small problems before they become large. So in terms of support I like to just have a good relationship and be accessible and I’ve got a great team there as well to back me up when it comes to being available. And just the nursing staff here in the rooms are excellent, the front desk staff are excellent, and the patients really get to know them as well and it just makes the lines of communication very easy.
Trish Hammond: Totally, and you know one thing that I notice myself is whenever I’m in your office you don’t feel like you’re putting them out, if you know what I mean, like cause I know everyone’s busy, and sometimes when you’re busy you kind of rush people through, but not once have I run to your office or ever felt rushed or you know I’ve got to go another caller. They’ve always had the time and obviously it’s just a ripple effect that comes through from what you do because I do know that you spend a lot of time with your patients as well, hence why we were a little bit late today as well because you know you’ve just got to spend that time with…
Matthew Peters: No, it is important and look sometimes I am running late with things, but when the patient’s in the chair in front of you and it’s more or less nerves, I need to talk to them about things and I need to be there to question them, and there’s elements of the patient’s episode of care and their surgery and everything, and I just need to know as much as possible. And I do talk a lot, but at the same time I need to talk through these things and time just needs to be given.
Trish Hammond: Yeah, totally, totally agree. And I love that you’ve got that lifeline with the patient because the amount of inquiries that we’ve had through in our closed Facebook groups where patients can’t get a hold of their surgeon or someone that works with them, and then they put a really anxious post, and all they needed was to be able to speak to the surgeon, or the nurse, or someone that actually knows them, or to take that concern away from them. And so it’s really good that if someone comes to you they’re not gonna have that stress.
Matthew Peters: It’s so important, and it’s funny some other surgeons will go I can’t believe you do that, but interestingly I don’t get too many text messages, I don’t get too many phone calls. And all the patients seem to be respectful that they’ve got that point of contact, they know they can use it, but I just don’t get too many calls. And it’s not that big a deal. As I said I find that people, I think it’s a good thing and it’s not something that’s keeping me up all night. It works well.
Trish Hammond: I think it’s a good thing too. And I think as like surgery is evolving, it’s almost becoming an expectation for the patient as well, they can look around and when they find out that … you’re always gonna be at the top of the list because you actually provide that extra service because there’s a lot of doctors, like you said, out there that just don’t do that service.
Matthew Peters: They don’t and that’s one of the things that I’m very mindful of is that patients are putting a lot of time, effort, money, everything into undergoing these sorts of procedures, and they’re seeking help, and it’s usually at the end of a very long time period of questioning what they’re up to and why they’re doing it, and addressing a certain problem. And it’s really a big deal. And that’s where just being available is really key to just making a positive sort of experience compared to something that is negative.
Trish Hammond: Exactly, exactly. So true, so true. And I wanted to ask you one more question, cause I know you’ve got to get home to your family. But is there something that you can give us as a take away, actually no, not a take away, but do you have a more interesting experience from your plastic surgery career that you can actually share with us about a particular patient or a procedure or something that happened that was kind of a bit, kind of mind blowing, or out of the ordinary.
Matthew Peters: Out of the ordinary, mind blowing.
Trish Hammond: There’s probably heaps, it’s like which one do you want to pick?
Matthew Peters: Yeah, just had so many bits and pieces cause I worked in a public sector as well at the Royal Brisbane, and I also work obviously in private, and I’ve just seen so many different things that have just absolutely shocked me or just amazed me or both. I think in terms of the patient experience some of the reconstructive breast cancer cases that I’ve had have been really interesting in terms of taking people from having double mastectomies and then not being aware of what’ possible and living a certain way and being upset with how things are. And being like that for years and taking a more relaxed route to having new breasts that also make a good shape and have goals and all sorts of things like that. That’s been very, very rewarding over the years and I still do a lot of that.
I found that body contouring work very interesting and very rewarding as well. These people put in a lot of time and effort to lose lots of weight, and then they’re left with all this skin that is just a sad reminder of where they were at and is now limiting them from further achieving their goals. And it’s a lifestyle and everything and some of the girls that I’ve had and some of the boys as well, getting rid of all of that excess skin and giving them a shape and a form that they can be like wearing a singlet or tucking in a t-shirt, or wearing nice jeans and not having to have a shirt that hangs out at the top. Simple things like that have just been little tiny milestones along the way where there’s just personal goals for a patient, and I’ve been able to be part of that.
So yeah, I mean, in terms of really interesting scenarios is there’s plenty, but in terms of the day to day, there the little things that have been really good things in my practise that I’ve enjoyed.
Trish Hammond: Yeah, yeah. Oh that’s awesome. And what’s your one little piece of advice as a takeaway, this will be your last question, what’s your one little piece of advice as a takeaway to patients out there who are thinking of having a plastic cosmetic, aesthetic, surgery procedure. If you had to give one piece of advice for them to take away that you could actually share or something that you’d want them to know?
Matthew Peters: I want them to really focus on what the problem is and how big an issue it is to them before they then go and do their homework. And they’ve got to seek out well trained people, they’ve got to speak to friends, they’ve got to look at forums, they’ve got to really do their homework and then go meet with the surgeon, and make sure that they get all of the information that they need before embarking on their procedure.
None of this is stuff that’s urgent and it’s usually, as I said, at the end of a really long period of time where someone’s been thinking about it. And so they need to do their homework, answer their questions, make sure they’ve got a good surgeon. Make sure they’ve got a surgeon who is available to help them find out what would happen if there are problems and how it would be handled, and get those good relationships happening for the long terms. If there’s any problems, they’re well looked after. So yeah it comes back to being knowledgeable in terms of before you turn up making sure you get the knowledge and info while you’re there and then keeping it and having a good line of communication long term.
Trish Hammond: Yep, really making an informed decision and choice, eh?
Matthew Peters: Massively so.
Trish Hammond: Awesome, awesome. Well that’s been fantastic, Dr. Peters, I really thank you so much for your time with us tonight cause it’s been great to have that chat and find out a bit about your practise and what you love doing and a little bit about the service that you guys offer. So thank you so much for taking the time.
Matthew Peters: No, it’s been good.