Dr. Tarik Husain is one of Florida’s top plastic surgeons. A quadruple board-certified surgeon, certified in plastic, orthopedic, hand, and sports medicine, Dr. Husain’s peers voted and named him as “Florida Top Doctor” in 2018. Dr. Husain spoke with British Thoughts about his start in the medical industry and his time in the military, where he spent time treating injured troops who flew in from Iraq and Afghanistan. He also discusses the origins of his famed nickname, “Dr. Miami Beach.”
How’d you get your start in the medical industry?
My passion for sports medicine started when I played football and tore my ACL. As an 18-year-old patient, I stayed awake for a majority of the procedure, and my surgeon allowed me to watch some parts. It was then I knew I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. However, while I was in medical school, I rotated on plastic surgery, and I fell in love with that field as well. I used orthopedic surgery as my stepping stone to plastic surgery.
Can you tell me about your time in the military? What was your role and how long did you serve?
I started out as a second lieutenant while in medical school at USC (University of Southern California). I was then promoted to Captain when I graduated and became a doctor. During my duty assignment as an orthopedic surgeon in Seoul, South Korea at the 121st Combat Support Hospital, I was further promoted to Major. All these promotions happened without attending basic training! My next assignment was in Landstuhl, Germany, where I landed my largest role of being the Deputy Commander (normally reserved for Colonel rank) for the 212th Combat Support Hospital. I was in charge of 16 surgeons, 40 nurses and about 200 soldiers. I devised plans for military action for any medical disaster that may affect a civilian population, including when a satellite was going to drop out of the sky. I had 24 hours to get a forward surgical team ready to go on very short notice.
Are there any skills you picked up during your time serving that you still utilize today?
I learned to operate without fear. Being a good surgeon is knowing your limits, but also how to extend your abilities to further your surgery and patient outcomes.
Although you do specialize in plastic surgery for the breast, neck, body and face, your abdominal etching work has garnered a lot of attention. What is abdominal etching exactly, and why is it getting so popular?
Abdominal etching is a special form of high-definition liposuction that allows men to uncover their six pack abs, which everyone has under their layer of fat. I don’t make “fake abs;” rather, I uncover your real existing abs. For women, abdominal etching usually involves making more feminine vertical lines in the abdomen and accentuating the diagonal hip lines.
Explain the origins of the “Dr. Miami Beach” nickname.
I once walked out of my car in Miami Beach in 2016, and I was asked if I am Dr. Miami. I replied, “No, I’m Dr. Miami Beach.” I said it almost reflexively without thinking and it has stuck ever since.
You’re also an educator. What do you teach and how important is it to pass what you’ve learned on to the next generation?
I have surgical residents scrub into surgeries with me and I teach them gradually how to operate. I focus on surgical planning, planning incisions, good safe dissection skills, how to manipulate the tissues without damaging nerves or blood vessels and how to make nice aesthetic closures with almost no scarring.
You’re president of the Miami Society of Plastic Surgeons. Tell me about that and what your position entails.
The Miami Society of Plastic Surgeons was a very homogenous group before I joined. I took over the leadership by being an active voice for patient safety. We now have many plastic surgeons in our group of all races, genders, etc. who all have a common mindset: practicing “SAFE” plastic surgery and not compromising on safety to cheapen the price. Good quality plastic surgery is more expensive, because it is done in accredited facilities and requires appropriate board certifications, as well as hospital credentials so you can take care of your patient appropriately if a complication arises.
You recently opened your own practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. What made you want to take that risk?
I thought when all other businesses are winding back during the pandemic, this was my moment to take a calculated risk and invest everything I had into building my own office and my own accredited operating room, without taking out a business loan or line of credit (these were not being given to doctors during the pandemic, although in a non-pandemic setting, they used to be given out routinely). I only use MD board-certified anesthesiologists on my patients to maximize their safety. This is more expensive than using CRNAs, who can also be very good, but the training isn’t as vigorous to become an MD board-certified anesthesiologist. It’s just like training to become a board-certified plastic surgeon versus a “cosmetic surgeon,” who trains in unaccredited shorter programs.
What are some of your goals for the rest of 2021, and how do you hope to accomplish them?
My goals now are to expand my practice, which entails good quality face, breast, body, buttock and even hand to shoulder surgeries. I’m appearing in magazines and TV interviews to educate the public on what to look for in a good plastic surgeon, so they have a lesser chance of being “botched” or abandoned.
For more information on Dr. Husain, visit his website at www.drmiamibeach.com
Interview by Carlos Lacayo