Business Q&A – Kallirroi Tzafetta
PUBLISHED: 11:47 02 February 2014 | UPDATED: 12:09 02 February 2014
Kallirroi Tzafetta, consultant plastic surgeon at the Rivers Hospital, Sawbridgeworth, describes the joy she gets from helping patients
Tell us about your job. In the NHS I am the lead head and neck reconstructive surgeon, where my primary focus is on performing complicated reconstructive procedures on the after the removal of cancers. I also perform procedures for facial reanimation after a trauma or due to diseases such as Bell’s palsy. Privately, I perform the full range of cosmetic procedures.
What do you enjoy most about it?
Having the opportunity to use my skills to affect a desired change in someone’s life. Whether it is performing a series of complicated surgeries to reconstruct a patients head or neck after cancer surgery, or performing cosmetic surgery to enhance appearance. It is the joy they express when they see the results that brings me the greatest satisfaction.
What are the biggest challenges?
Trying to manage the patient’s expectations to ensure they are realistic and achievable. Each patient’s structure is unique, so trying to achieve a look a patient has seen in a magazine may not be possible for them.
What was your first job?
After medical school I served a rural community in Peloponnese in southern Greece. It was a picturesque area on the seaside. I was the only doctor providing care, mostly for the elderly citizens of the villages in the area. It was an amazing feeling to experience their immense gratitude.
How did you progress to your current position?
I performed my training at various units in the UK, and was a locum consultant at Leeds general infirmary where I had the opportunity to develop my surgical skills. During this period I also went to the USA where I studied and performed microsurgical procedures and research with one of the leading surgeons in the world. This enabled me to learn the skills needed to be lead head and neck reconstructive surgeon at St Andrews Centre of Plastic Surgery and Burns.
What are the most valuable business lessons you’ve learned?
To give my patients all the facts, so they can make an informed decision about their care. A well-informed patient is the best patient, because they are not just taking my word, but being actively involved in their choices and their care after procedures to obtain the desired results.
What are your ambitions for the future?
To continue my research in facial paralysis and nerve reanimation with the aim of one day developing a new technique to further advance plastic surgery in this field. Working with my colleagues, I hope to assemble a research team of dedicated individuals who share my passion, which is instrumental to achieve these goals.
Who is your business role model?
Arianna Huffington. She is an excellent Greek business woman who has the ability to bring people together for a cause.
What’s your motivation?
The love for my work. Plastic surgery is about improving people’s lives.
What has been your greatest business achievement?
I do not have just one. All the successful patient outcomes are my greatest achievements.