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Why Teamwork Has Built Skin Institute’s Wide Range of Services
Skin Institute
May 2, 2015

Skin Institute has a total approach to skin – but it has also committed to a total approach to teamwork.

The company’s unique approach to combining skincare and plastic and cosmetic surgery means we have gathered the country’s leading experts in all areas of appearance medicine, dermatology and surgery to create New Zealand’s largest and leading multi-disciplinary skin clinic.

And that means that clients can be offered the broadest possible spectrum of services from a range of specialists as well as ensuring that their treatment – whether it’s for skin cancer, cosmetic surgery, anti-ageing procedures or other skin issues – is handled by people who think and act as a team.


The latest surgeon to come on board at Skin Institute’s new Remuera clinic, Zac Moaveni, says this collaborative approach is what attracted him to join.


Zac’s already a high-flying plastic and reconstructive surgeon who graduated from Otago University in 1996 with several distinctions and received the prestigious Gordon-Taylor Gold Medal, which is awarded to the top ranking training surgeon in Australia and New Zealand. He received fellowships to work alongside the world’s leading plastic surgeons in Asia, the United States and London before returning to New Zealand in 2007 and is now a consultant at Middlemore, Kidz First, and Starship Children’s Hospitals in Auckland, where he does a lot of work with children including treating cleft lips and palates as well as congenital deformities.


After meeting Skin Institute surgeons Mark Izzard and Rajan Patel while working on complex reconstruction cases, the 41-year-old decided he wanted to become part of our team.


“One thing I love about this job is the variety,” he says. “Most people don’t really understand what plastic surgery is about – they think it’s just the cosmetic side of things. But it’s also about solving reconstructive problems so there was an opportunity with Skin Institute to join on that front for some of the reconstructive work required after cancer surgery.”


And knowing that Skin Institute’s dedication to providing a complete approach to treatment and care also proved a major attraction.


“So that’s one of things which really appealed. One of the huge strengths of the Skin Institute is its multidisciplinary approach which basically means that people are directed to the person most suitable to treat them,” Zac says.

“And we’re lucky enough to work alongside a range of experts from dermatologists through to GPs with specialist areas and expertise, meaning that people will go where they can get the best treatment from the specific specialist.

“I guess my philosophy is that you’ve got to provide patients with the best possible service you can offer, but which is personalised and tailored to them and their issue. And I think that blends really well with what Skin Institute does – seeing who is best suited to solving a specific problem. They really do put people ahead of other issues so that works really well.”

As well as enjoying working as part of a team, Zac says both his reconstructive surgery and his cosmetic surgery are driven by the philosophy that his work is “part art and part science”. In other words, what makes skin aesthetically beautiful relies on a combination of health and a healthy respect for the body.


He gives two examples, firstly from his reconstruction work:


“Nasal skin cancer is unfortunately very common – after all, the nose gets a lot of sun over the years. So there’s two issues to deal with: one is that you’ve got to remove the cancer properly and completely and Skin Institute has dermatologists with a lot of expertise and techniques such as Mohs surgery for making sure cancer is gone; and secondly, once the cancer’s gone you’ve got to do the reconstruction. Sometimes that can be incredibly complex because the defects that are left require some very innovative ideas – sometimes you need skin flaps or grafts from other parts of the face or body, or you may need some cartilage from the ribs to bring it all together. So I think that’s how the patient at Skin Institute is getting the best of both worlds, firstly they’re getting really good cancer care and then a really good reconstruction both functionally and from an appearance point of view that will serve them well in the long-term.”


And then from his cosmetic work:


“Skin Institute provides really top-notch nurses who do Botox and injectables such as fillers – and they have very regular and loyal customers who come year-in-year-out,” Zac says.

“But there comes a time when the Botox and fillers aren’t going to deal with the problem anymore. So, for example, the neck lift becomes one of the more common procedures because a surgical procedure is needed to treat sagging skin.

“So we have a good synergy where the patient will then be referred to me by the nursing team to discuss the potential surgical option which I’d be able to provide and to a dermatologist who will provide skincare services because having good skin is all part of that whole multidisciplinary approach.”

Knowing that cosmetic and reconstructive surgery can make such a difference to people’s lives has also driven Zac to take his skills on charitable surgical missions around the Pacific, where he’s already visited Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

He’s just returned from nearly two weeks in the Solomon Islands where he saw nearly 100 patients and operated on around 50 people with cleft lips and palates, burns and contractures.

“It is quite a heavy surgical workload but it’s satisfying to provide a service where there’s no local plastic surgical expertise,” he says.

“People come from far and wide – some even come two or three days by boat from outlying islands – and you do these massive clinics where you sit down at 8am and work through until late in the evening. I just love sitting in front of a patient and their parents and trying to decide with all the limitations of resources, how you can help them, and then just getting on with it.”


Zac says this recent trip provided him with his most memorable patient ever.


“There was one particular kid who came from one of the outlying islands and he had the most terrible facial cleft that he’d ever seen – it was basically a big hole in front of his face and nose. He was about five and he had two older brothers and he was just one of those really lit-up individuals who you know within 10 seconds that they’ve got that energy about them despite such a terrible disfigurement.

“He arrived late and missed the assessment day but there was no way we could have left him given what he’d been through, so we ended up operating late into the evening. But, gosh, his mum’s reaction on the ward afterwards! She was talking to the dad on the phone with tears streaming down her face and she was telling the dad that now the kid looked just like him.

“It was a really amazing emotional experience for them – and for me. It’s those kind of things you do for which there’s simply no equal.”

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