When friends and family inquire about the new hair style or wardrobe, cosmetic surgeon Amir Karam of Carmel Valley has done his clients proud

Carmel Valley News/Del Mar Village Voice

September 11, 2008

By Lee Schoenbart

Educating clients and alleviating their concerns is an integral part of cosmetic surgeon Dr. Amir Karam’s consultations. First-time clients might feel compelled to conceal the procedures from family and friends for fear of embarrassment.

However, Karam, of Carmel Valley Facial Plastic Surgery, counsels that the best compliment anyone can pay them is when friends, family and even colleagues rave about a client’s new hairstyle or wardrobe.

Dr. Amir Karam

“Excellent plastic surgery with excellent results is when no one can tell what was done,” said Karam, a board-certified facial and reconstructive surgery specialist. “We have patients who have these dramatic changes and everyone talks to them about this latest haircut that took 15 years off their face.

“It’s really interesting,” he said, “almost universally, if you talk to our patients, you’ll get that. “You look at their ‘before’ and ‘after,’ it’s shocking how different it is, but because the changes look natural and appropriate for their face, the result is people look for other reasons. Whether it’s a new hair color, a new shirt, a new kind of makeup that they’re wearing, people can’t really tell plastic surgery was performed on the patient.” So, is the doctor really stating the best compliment one of his patients can get is when somebody says, “Gee, I really like your new haircut?”

“Hands down!” he exclaimed. “And believe it or not, they know that too. I get so many e-mails and phone calls when they go back into work, go back into their daily lives. They say, When friends and family inquire about the new hair style or wardrobe, cosmetic surgeon Amir Karam of Carmel Valley has done his clients proud ‘You’ll get a kick out of this Dr. K; I just got another compliment on my hair.’

“One patient I just saw, a year after her facial rejuvenation, she said, ‘Finally the hair comments came to a stop. I think everyone just got over my hair.’ “It’s an interesting phenomenon that happens,” said Karam, who is well known for his original techniques to rejuvenate the eyes, face and neck.

“It’s an interesting phenomenon that happens,” said Karam, who is well known for his original techniques to rejuvenate the eyes, face and neck.

Karam, who also performs rhinoplasty, cosmetic or functional surgery of the nose and repairs to previous surgery of the nose, said, “Even family members sometimes don’t know that these changes have occurred because when we do rhinoplasty I focus on the patient’s face not on their nose and create a nose that fits with the rest of the face and they walk into their normal life and people literally just comment on other aspects.”

Since these procedures are highly-specialized, life-changing surgeries, many people wonder why it’s trivialized by the commonly- used phrase “plastic surgery. The queries range from “what does plastic have to do with it” to “is plastic being grafted onto something.”

The American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons stated on its Web site, plasticsurgery.org, that despite the popular misconception, the word “plastic” in plastic surgery does not mean artificial, but is derived from the ancient Greek word “plastikos,” which means to mold or give form.

Among the oldest forms of cosmetic surgery, the Web site noted, was performed in 600 B.C. by a Sushruta—a renowned surgeon of ancient India—that used forehead skin to reconstruct noses amputated from criminals as punishment. During the 15th century, the Branca family of Sicily adopted the Sushrutas’ method of nasal repair and in northern Italy Gaspare Tagliacozzi of Bologna used skin from the inner upper arm.

The term “plastique” is credited to the 18th century French surgeon Pierre Joseph Desault, but it was the publication of the German surgical manual “Handbuch der plastischen Chirurgie” in 1838 that established the phrase. Very early on in medical school, Karam said he attended an anatomy lecture and the students were shown what real-life medicine and surgery was like for a specific area they might have to treat at some point in their career. That particular lecture dealt with the head and neck region.

“A facial plastic surgeon gave some talks on it and I was just blown away by how dynamic the field was from the reconstructives, the cosmetics and the rhinoplasties to dealing with major trauma and congenital defects,” recalled Karam who graduated summa cum laude from University of California San Diego with a B.S. in biochemistry and cell biology. “I thought it was the most interesting and high-impact type of surgery you could do because you’re dealing with a person’s face.

“The person’s face is so important to the individual, obviously, but also it’s an area where there is no margin for error. Every surgery has to be absolutely as perfect as it can be because the patient is wearing that change for the world to see and for them to see every day they look in the mirror,” said Karam, the 2005 recipient of the Resident Award for Outstanding Patient Care, Teaching and Research from the Department of Otolaryngology for Head and Neck Surgery at the University of California Irvine.

“I also like the pressure of working in an area that has such a high value and such a low margin for error,” he said.

Karam also makes time to donate his skills and services as a voluntary assistant clinical professor at UCSD, a staff surgeon at the San Diego Veterans Affair Medical Center and volunteers with the FACE to FACE program which provides surgery to victims of domestic violence.

For information and consultation, call (858) 252-6826 or e-mail [email protected]

Carmel Valley Facial Plastic Surgery is in Suite 201 at 4765 Carmel Mountain Road.

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