An Interview with Borneo Talk Magazine
BT: Aesthetic Health – could you please explain more on this and how this is a driving force in today’s society:
Dr. M: A recent article in Forbes magazine (online) reported that many older professionals are seeking cosmetic enhancement to compete with their younger colleagues. I see this as one indicator of the power that beauty has in the industrialised world. Let’s consider topical cosmetic products. By 2012, in the U.S. alone, the cosmeceutical industry is expected to top $20 billion USD. Throughout Asia we are seeing the same growth in sales of beauty products. I believe many of these dollars are being wasted due to lack of public education, lack of regulation and a “fast-food” perspective on cosmetic surgery. Dr. Zein Obagi, founder of Obagi skin products, made a statement in the preface to his 1999 book (Skin Health / Restoration & Rejuvenation) that reflects my philosophy. “For the field of skin rejuvenation to move forward, (we) must abandon the notion that rejuvenation is strictly cosmetic and view it as a means for restoring healthier skin”. The Centre for Aesthetic Health will apply this spirit to, not just skin, but the overall rejuvenation of our patients. My charge is to make my patients the best version of themselves. In order to achieve this, I must consider everything from what my patients are eating and their dental health to their sleep and fitness. Patients are being told that great, lasting results can be achieved with a superficial approach to beauty. This does not feel right to me.
BT: Would you recommend treatment for those who suffer from low self esteem? Sometimes women, and even men will want to improve their looks even though they are naturally alright with no major deficiencies:
Dr. M: Great question. Let me try to explain my approach. The desire to look one’s best is natural. Even the preacher at church combs his hair carefully and wears nice clothes that fit well. Michael Jordan, the famous ex-NBA star, replied to a question about his clothing line with, “you have to look good to feel good and feel good to play good.” More and more adults are now wearing braces to straighten their teeth for a more beautiful smile. We like people who smile. They seem happy. For most, looking our best, helps us feel and perform at our best. And modern marketing takes full advantage of that. It comes down to expectations. I am eager to improve a patient’s self esteem through rejuvenation. I am very reluctant to take on a patient who is lost and is trying to become a different person through a few procedures. It is hard to fully answer this question without touching on spiritual fitness. I encourage patients to explore their heart and find deeper meaning in their life.
There’s more to good health than dieting and managing disease. Integrative approachers to improving one’s sense of radiance and beauty is part of the new Centre for Aesthetic Health at Normah under Dr. Adam C. Miller, consultant surgeon from USA.
BT: At what age should one be before seeking medical treatment for long term healthy condition in later age?
Dr. M: This is where public education becomes so important. Let me offer some practical suggestions that your readers may appreciate. I recognise a great desire among the people of Sarawak to have a beautiful smile, yet there is profound dental neglect. Early intervention with a dentist can help prevent major long term problems, and is always less expensive than waiting until “it gets really bad”. Having said that, due to recent advances, I am placing dental implants in 70 and 80 year old patients with great success. Regarding skin. Untreated acne can leave devastating, lifelong scars on the face. Therefore, teenagers with acne should see a physician like myself. We know that the natural production of collagen starts to decline around the age of 21 years. The early 20’s is an ideal time to get both women and men on a preventative skin care regimen, replace bad teeth and talk about lifestyle issues. Keeping a young person from smoking and educating them on the connection between lifestyle and beauty is invaluable.
BT: What are the major advantages of coming to the one stop centre for treatment when compared to other private practitioners?
Dr. M: The Centre for Aesthetic Health has one great advantage. It is based at a top-notch hospital, Normah Medical Specialist Centre. We realise that for many patients, time and convenience are the main obstacles to achieving their health goals. Because we have a neurologist, dietician, physical therapists, highly trained nurses and estheticians, radiology, and a sleep lab there will be no cutting of corners with patient care. We are positioned to deliver comprehensive care and superior results in a convenient manner.
BT: When did you first discover that this was the medical path you would be pursuing in life? Was it what you had anticipated it would be and would you recommend it to others?
Dr. M: I started college as an art major and enjoyed drawing and sculpting. Even as a child I was called to art as a way of expression. My work now feels like more art than science. I declined offers during residency to join the dermatology or plastic surgery fields. Those were difficult decisions. But, abandoning my advanced training in sleep apnea and dental implants just did not settle well with me. And now, my practice success has been based on being able to reconstruct a patient’s mouth, rejuvenate their face and help them achieve better sleep. I am putting both my dental degree and medical degree to great use everyday. And patients seem to really appreciate my practice scope. Many of my dental implant patients go on to have facial rejuvenation and sleep analysis. As for the field of cosmetic surgery, I walk cautiously and encourage my younger colleagues to do the same. Maintain diversity in your practice. Do not allow your business responsibilities to compromise your treatment decisions. By performing dental implant surgeries, sleep apnea procedures, I never feel like I must perform a facial cosmetic surgery. The diversity of my practice gives me the luxury to be completely honest and selective with my cosmetic patients. I urge patients to be alert to “pressured sales.” Unfortunately this is common in the cosmetic surgery industry. I want no part of that.
BT: Why Sarawak? Of the numerous places you could have gone to, coming here must be quite a sacrifice to you and family. How do you cope with this and has the family adapted to this?
Dr. M: Believe me, many people are asking me this question right now. You are right. At this time I could go just about anywhere. My practice in the US is amazing. I could not ask for a better staff, more money or a better schedule of patients. We are busy, challenged and profitable. But my response is, “why not Sarawak?” Malaysia has a huge need for education and the development of standards related to cosmetic surgery, dental implants and sleep. I feel custom made to respond to these needs. On a personal note, I love to travel and plan to explore the eastern part of the world. The pace is refreshing; excellent scuba diving is close and I am a big fan of the food. Sarawak has a personality that invites healing of the body and the soul. I believe that all of this provides a recipe for success. There is a lack of equipment, training and understanding right now, but I am confident in the people responsible for those parts. We are creating something currently not found anywhere else in the world – The Centre for Aesthetic Health at Normah.
BT: If you have one major advice to people here, in terms of health, what would that be?
Dr. M: In my two months at Normah, I have observed severe dental neglect. Infections in teeth and the jaw bones are known to cause an increase in heart attacks and spontaneous abortions. From a cosmetic standpoint, loss of teeth and bone cause the face to “fall.” So, take your oral health more seriously. There is much more to say, but it will have to wait for your first appointment at The Centre for Aesthetic Health. Thank you so much for this discussion. I truly enjoyed your questions.