Mr Basim Matti details his career in aesthetics and discusses the importance of mentorship and training
“Medicine has always been in my family, although I am the only surgeon,” explains Mr Basim Matti, who emigrated from Iraq to the UK in 1980 to progress his medical career. He says, “Coming from my home country of Iraq and becoming a consultant plastic surgeon has been an excellent achievement – being in this part of the world, which is a much more peaceful world, is wonderful.”
“You learn from your mistakes and that is the best thing you can do; always be critical in everything that you do – always think, can I do better?”
Mr Matti studied medicine in Mosul, Iraq, and graduated in 1973. He says, “As a doctor, I have always regarded helping people as being very important. If you can help the patient, particularly if you can make them feel better, that’s wonderful.” Following his medical training, Mr Matti obtained a Fellowship to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1981 and trained at the Plastic Surgery Centre in Sheffield and St Andrew’s Hospital in Billericay, Essex.
During this time, Mr Matti met Mr Freddie Nicole – who would later become his mentor and business partner – at a meeting in Glasgow in 1986, where he was asked to complete a six-month Fellowship with him in London. Later he went on to become senior registrar at West Middlesex Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital in London, before becoming a consultant at Charing Cross Hospital, London. He explains that, “In 1989 I came back and joined Mr Nicole at his clinic and I have never looked back.” Mr Matti worked with Mr Nicole for nearly 10 years; after this he took over Mr Nicole’s consulting room on Harley Street and has been running it himself ever since. Despite being in the industry for such a long time, Mr Matti is still very passionate about his job, explaining, “I have now been doing this work for more than 30 years and I still very much enjoy it.”
Prior to private practice, Mr Matti was predominantly doing reconstructive surgery, an experience that he says, “Has to be the basis for any surgeon who wants to be a good plastic, aesthetic surgery consultant because it gives you a wide range of experiences that can be adapted for many types of procedures.” He explains that now he works in private practice, his workload consists mostly of cosmetic plastic surgery procedures. “I enjoy seeing the change in the patient’s life, in their confidence and in their look – I’ve found that it’s absolutely imperative for some people and their psychology,” he says.
Mr Matti credits much of his success to the invaluable mentorship he has received throughout his career from those such as Mr Nicole, which he says is essential for any aesthetic practitioner. He explains, “I think having mentors is very important. It helps you in the long-term with networking and provides opportunities that you might not otherwise come across. It also allows you to learn from others’ mistakes before you have to make them yourself.”
Mr Matti emphasises that as with any medical profession, training and education is key, “Every single patient is important, and, as we say, ‘you’re only as good as your last operation’, so it is very important that you make sure that every procedure you do is your best.” For those looking to further their skills, Mr Matti suggests approaching a more experienced practitioner. “There is no shame in this,” he says, adding, “Go to the meetings, go to conferences and read the journals.” He also urges practitioners against rushing into trying new procedures, “Be trained properly – not just through a weekend course – make sure you do several courses and continue your training throughout your career. Make sure that you are able to inform the patient of the details of the treatment and are capable of delivering it effectively, whether it’s surgical or non-surgical – stick with the area in which you are interested in and capable of doing.”
To be successful in the industry, Mr Matti says it is vital to stay updated, but not to just simply follow the latest trend, “Don’t just go for the fad of the day – there are a lot of them that come and go in this industry so we have to be careful to give advice that is for the benefit of the patient, not for the practitioner’s pocket. You’ve got to treat patients with respect, and they will respect you too.”
He also advises those entering the industry to always consider the patient above their own agendas, “Make sure the patient comes before your profit. Sadly a lot of people are rushing into the industry to make a ‘quick buck’ when we should be focusing on patient care,” he says. Mr Matti notes that throughout the last 30 years of practising cosmetic surgery he has always strived to do better, and urges others to do the same. He says, “You learn from your mistakes and that is the best thing you can do; always be self critical in everything that you do – always think, can I do better?”