Dr Mark Vucak, Director of Queensland Plastic Surgery in Townsville, had his first introduction to plastic surgery whilst he was a patient in the Burns unit after being caught in a gas explosion while fighting a fire on a surfing trip. Dr Vucak is not only one of Australia’s top plastic surgeons, he’s one of our more interesting! We wanted to hear more about Dr Vucak’s colourful journey to the top!
Growing up in the Middle East
Although his parents are from Perth, with an aircraft engineer as a father Dr Vucak was born in Kuwait and spent his first few years in the Middle East. He remembers his mum working in a hospital in New Guinea and the smell of the hospital was something he still remembers. “All across the world hospitals have the same smell. I think that was my introduction to medicine. In later years after we moved back to Perth my dad accidentally cut my little finger with a fishing knife at Geraldton in WA and I remember the doctor’s office and stitches as a child. My little finger remains numb to this day so I had an untreated nerve injury – but it’s very difficult to diagnose and repair in a small child. It doesn’t affect my operating now.”
Dr Vucak says it was when he was in the Burns Unit at Royal Perth Hospital after the surfing trip that he got a patient’s perspective on plastic surgery. He says it definitely helped in his career. “Whilst at Uni I was in the Australian Canoe team for many years and represented Australia overseas and at the World Championships and I was very interested in hand and upper limb surgery which is done by Plastic Surgeons.”
Dr Vucak has trained with some of the best cosmetic and breast surgeons in the world and became interested in this type of surgery some 25 years ago. He says he finds it amusing when he travels to the USA for meetings and gets pulled aside because of having Kuwait in his passport! Dr Vucak has performed more than 5,000 breast augmentations, 800 breast reductions and over 800 tummy tucks. He presents at international surgical meetings so has a plethora of interesting plastic surgery stories, however two stand out.
“The first is a woman who was involved in a car accident and her partner unfortunately passed away. Somehow she had part of his arm bone in her possession and wanted it implanted in her to be a permanent reminder of him! The second case, just as interesting, was a man who wanted his scrotum split in two so each testis had its own scrotal sac. We proceeded with this and had a good result but unfortunately my peers now refer to this as the “Vucak sac split operation “which is hard to live down.”
Dr Vucak is known for his focus on the patient and their outcome. He strives to produce the best possible result for each and every patient. Dr Vucak’s attitude and perspective is refreshing. “With time comes experience, and I believe a lower complication rate. When you are young everyone is concerned with proving themselves and trying to say they are better than the next surgeon for business and advertising and the focus is only on the surgeon. Once you realise you have nothing left to prove the focus is then only on the patient. Everyone gives lip service to this idea but very few practice this. In Surgical practice most people never come to this realisation because they remain focussed on themselves as that is the nature of many surgeons. Narcissistic people make the best surgeons because they strive for perfection. We all do it. It takes a lot of operating and a lot of experience to realise the patient is the most important person in the equation. That gives the most satisfaction to me in my work, dealing with people on a personal level with one on one attention.”
Dr Vucak says that from a technical point of view rhinoplasty is the most difficult cosmetic operation. “That’s why I love it; because it’s such a challenge. Fortunately, at our practice, we cover a wide range of procedures and that’s interesting. From breast surgery to facial cosmetic, body contouring and reconstructive surgery – my partner and I have operated on 45,000 patients now.”
Dr Vucak says his best advice to anyone considering plastic surgery is to check that the surgeon has qualifications from the Royal Australian College of Surgeons, then have a consult to see what they think. “If you get a good vibe then it means they are more likely to help you out if there is a problem and have your interests at heart. In general, like Motor Cars and houses, you get what you pay for, and the cheapest surgery is unlikely to be that good. One of my first Mentors asked me the question – ‘Would you rather go to a surgeon who drives a Mercedes or a broken down old Ute?’ It’s your body and you have to live with result for life. As time goes by you forget the cost but can see poor surgery. It’s something to keep in mind. Of course there is a balance, and word of mouth to see the experience of others is useful.”
We also hear that Dr Vucak is a surgeon who goes out of his way for his patients. We asked him about it. “Last month I had a rhinoplasty patient from Melbourne who had problems with her nasal cartilage graft from rhinoplasty. I flew to Melbourne and adjusted it for her in the rooms of a colleague without her having to fly to see me. I like to follow up to make sure everything is good and the patient is happy. Complications cannot be avoided in Surgery from time to time, but it’s how it’s managed that’s important.”
Dr Vucak has no shortage of happy patients, and as well as being a great surgeon he’s also a genuinely lovely guy. His practice covers Townsville, Rockhampton, Mackay and Cairns, so very convenient for our northern Queensland patients. If you’d like more information on Dr Vucak, check out his listing, or phone his clinic on 1300 366 782 to arrange a consult.