In Profile: Dr Sam Rizk

01 Oct 2014

Wendy Lewis speaks to New York Plastic Surgeon Sam Rizk; a modern, high-tech surgeon who loves a challenge and never changes a face or nose the same way twice.

“Innovation is what drives me to continue to enhance my results.”

Dr Sam Rizk may be based in New York City, but he has a very global outlook in regards to his work. He began his career in Egypt where his father and mentor, Dr Samy Rizk Senior, encouraged him to become a doctor.
Dr Rizk Senior qualified as an anaesthetist in the UK, and was recruited to join Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, which brought his family to America. Dr Rizk Junior is a fellowship trained facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon. His training included an accelerated honours programme at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor where he received his medical degree. Dr Rizk then did a general surgery internship at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, a residency in otolaryngology/head and neck surgery/facial plastic surgery at New York Hospital and Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, and completed an American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – certified fellowship in Facial Plastic Surgery in California.

Upon his eventual return to New York, Dr Rizk opened his private practice. Safety is his number one priority. His private surgical suite maintains certification from the Joint Commission – the highest level of accreditation available. Dr Rizk merges two critical skills to achieve his safe surgical outcomes: a keen artistic eye and attention to detail (which he credits to his mother who is an artist) converged with his uber technical surgical skills. Art incorporates more than just his surgery; his spacious Park Avenue office walls are covered with original art and photography. “I’m an avid art collector,” he says. “I especially like the work of Horst B. Horst, Ormond Gigli, and Warhol.” With a waiting list of up to six weeks, Dr Rizk says he is 100% honest with his patients and explains that he may dissuade some of them from going under the knife. He says, “The benefits of surgery should far outweigh the risk, downtime and expense. I want my patients to be happy.” Dr Rizk has written and lectured extensively on current concepts related to rhinoplasty, revision rhinoplasty and aesthetic facial surgery, and is often invited to speak about his innovative techniques. “I really enjoy the camaraderie of international conferences and exchanging ideas with other surgeons. It’s so rewarding,” says Dr Rizk. His advances in the field include using tissue sealants to avoid nasal packing and facelift drains, the use of high definition 3D telescopes for enhanced precision and visibility, as well as rapid recovery techniques based on hidden, smaller incisions. “My patients need to get back to their lives very fast. We do everything we can to make that happen,” Dr Rizk explains. This attitude has helped him grow a practice that is 25% male, from CEOs to producers and musicians, who appreciate his straightforward, no-nonsense approach. Patients come from all over the world for his trademarked natural-looking results.

What do you consider the most challenging facial plastic surgery procedure?

I offer three operations – face and necklifts, eyelids, and rhinoplasty. Nose reshaping is by far the most complex procedure because it bridges aesthetics and function into a single procedure. Not only does the nose have to look good and suit the other features in harmony, they have to enable the patient to breathe well. About 40% of my practice is dedicated to revision rhinoplasty.

Is there such a thing as an ideal nose?

Every procedure must create a nose that is in harmony with the person’s face. When I perform a rhinoplasty, I never use a standard stamped procedure. Everyone is different in terms of their anatomy and proportions, as well as their sense of what looks good. This may be a smaller nose if you are starting out with a disproportionately large one, or it may mean a more subtle result. It can be harder to achieve a subtle result that requires finessing, than to reduce a hump deformity or reset a drooping tip.

How do you plan your rhinoplasty procedures?

Bone structure, skin type, age and ethnic background all factor into my surgical planning. African, Middle Eastern/Mediterranean, and Asian patients tend to have thicker skin that requires specialised techniques to resculpt the nasal tip instead of the cartilageexcising techniques used on thin-skinned patients. The nasal tip may be bulbous or lack support, which makes a good aesthetic outcome more challenging.

How does your 3D High-Definition Technology lead to a quicker recovery?

With this technology, a 3D telescope is connected to an imaging system so I can see muscles, blood vessels and other structures during surgery. I use tissue glue to provide a faster and more comfortable recovery. Because of increased visibility, the surgery is more precise as tissue is not distorted by swelling during the procedure. My facelift patients can look presentable within a week or so.

What other advances in aesthetics excite you?

Regenerative medicine is the future. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a powerful addition to our anti-ageing tool kit. Increasing platelets and growth factors in the blood has regenerative effects on the skin and can slow or reverse the signs of ageing. Platelets and growth factors stimulate stem cells, and PRP contains three to five times as many of these substances as normal blood. I use PRP in areas where soft tissue fillers, toxins and lasers aren’t always effective, such as around the eyes and mouth to improve skin texture. I also combine PRP with fat grafting, which I do extensively in my facelifts. Fat gives surgeons the ability to truly sculpt the face in a way that nothing else can.

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