Dr Patrick Briggs likens surgery to his favourite hobby – flying.
The plastic and cosmetic surgeon has a commercial pilot’s licence and spends many of his rare free hours in the sky.
“When you’re operating, you go into a different space,” he says. “We sometimes call it ‘flow’. It’s a meditative type of scenario.”
“There’s a correlation with flying in that when you’re in an aircraft there’s a sort of oneness with yourself.”
Dr Briggs’ interest in medicine was first sparked by his parents – his mother a general practitioner and his father an ear, nose and throat specialist surgeon.
“My dad said ‘son, if you want to be a surgeon you should do plastics,’” he said.
“He knew that I’d find plastics exciting because a lot of the techniques were evolving at a fast rate. My specialty is now cosmetics and he was right – a lot of new things are coming into vogue.”
Dr Briggs is proud to specialise in cosmetic surgery and says those who view it as shallow or superficial don’t understand the life-changing impact it can have.
“Some individuals have very rigid ideas, biases and prejudices about it,” he says. “But the physical changes it brings can have profound psychological, emotional and intellectual transformations.”
Dr Briggs, an Irish national, trained in plastic surgery in London, the USA and Ireland.
In 1992 he entered practice in London, but despite fulfilling his career aspirations he wasn’t living the lifestyle he desired. “I couldn’t cope with the traffic – leaving the house at 5.30 in the morning and getting back at nine o’clock at night,” he said.
“I was given an offer in Perth, so I flew over to look around and I called my wife and said ‘sell the house, we’re moving here.’”
Dr Briggs says his wife and children haven’t looked back since relocating to Western Australia 16 years ago. “I like the climate, the feeling of size and cleanliness, the ocean and the easier life,” he said.
“I also like that Australians have a much more American attitude than British in saying ‘how can we do it?’ instead of ‘we can’t do it.’”
He also enjoys cultivating ongoing relationships with his clients – something which he says is often impossible for cosmetic surgery ‘tourists’ who seek out treatment offshore.
“The Americans say most people spend more time choosing a refrigerator than they do choosing a surgeon,” he said. “People need to do their research and the trouble with a lot of overseas arrangements is that you don’t know what you’re getting. You will be sent to an individual who has entered a commercial arrangement and that doesn’t bode well.”
Dr Briggs said all of his patients had 24/7 access to him for the first six weeks post-procedure.
“Regular follow-ups are so important,” he said. “Your surgeon needs to see you to assess how you’re recovering and also to explain things. If there is good communication, the patient will understand the healing process.”
He said his number one piece of advice for people considering plastic surgery was to educate themselves and seek out practitioners who specialise in the procedure they are interested in.
“Find someone who has the requisite skills, experience and qualifications,” he said.
“In Australia, there is a lack of regulation so you really need to do your homework, talk to other patients and find a surgeon who will look after you into the future,” he said.