Greek City Times is excited to welcome top plastic surgeon Dr. Tim Papadopoulos to the team as a regular contributor and in-house health, beauty and wellness guru.
Few plastic surgeons match the reputation earned by Dr. Tim Papadopoulos for his surgical skill and sense of aesthetic harmony, especially in the field of body contouring and breast surgery. President of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) in 2014-2016, Dr.Papadopoulos is the Head of Plastic Surgery at Westmead Private Hospital and the Founder and Medical Director of CosmeticCulture Clinics.
He speaks exclusively to Greek City Times about growing up Greek in Australia, life, love, secrets to success and his definition of beauty.
Although I was born in Australia, there is a strong connection to my Greek heritage which runs in my blood.
I grew up jokingly saying that I was part of a new breed of Greeks called “Vlacho-Pontios”- and frankly, I’m surprised my father-in-law (who comes from Lesvos) ever allowed me to marry his daughter.
Anyway, my dad is fiercely Pontian having originated from a village called Kerasounta (Cherry Tree) in the Pontos region situated in northern Turkey. Their forced migration in the 1920s saw them fleeing in a boat from Smyrni (weeks before the massive fires which destroyed part of the city), disembarking in Athens and eventually settling in a small village called Areti, close to Langada in Macedonia.
On the other hand, my mum’s family originated in Vlasti, outside of Ptolemaida in Kozani.
She was one of 10 kids and endured a lot of hardship, especially when the family’s home was torched to the ground during the unrest of the civil war in Greece which took place at the end of WWII.
For two years, her family of 12 were confined to living in the kitchen premises.
Fast forward to the 1950s, my dad arrived in Melbourne, Australia and took up residence with his uncle and aunty in Spotswood who sponsored him.
Mum came to Australia in 1961, they got married and the rest is history as they say.
The path from my childhood to where I am today was far from easy.
My generation endured a difficult time at school, one that was challenged both physically and mentally too.
We had to cope with the “wog” era, until we had the numbers at school to fight back and obtain some sort of dignity, respect and justice in the way we were treated.
These fights and “argy bargy” with the “skippy kangaroothes” as they say was actually not the difficult part. What I and many others grappled with was the emotional and psychological torture that we went through to be accepted as equals in every way.
There were times I wished my name was “Smith or Johnson” so that I blended-in more easily into the Australian way of life, that I didn’t have to work two or three times harder to get the same recognition and that I wasn’t torn between two mother countries- Australia and Greece.
However, as they say, “diamonds are made under pressure,” I, too, became hardened, more resilient and demonstrated a greater grit that saw me through very difficult times in my career.
Maybe it was part of my Pontian side that came through- the stubbornness, the single mindedness and immense pride that saw me through these dark times.
Or maybe it was my other Vlahiko side, that through kindness, forgiveness and being helpful to others, that all challenges can be overcome and inevitably lead to a better version of ourselves.
Three factors influenced my decision to pursue plastic surgery.
When I was around 7 years old, I used to frequent antique book stores and be in awe of the mind boggling pathological conditions in textbooks like Bailey & Love’s Short Practice of Surgery. I still remember paying $2.50 for an early edition and thought it was an absolute bargain!
At the same time, I was an altar boy, and was inspired by Nobel Prize winner Albert Schweitzer, who was a doctor and theologian performing missionary work in Lambaréné, part of French Equatorial Africa which is now Gabon. It certainly sparked my altruistic nature for medicine.
I was fairly artistic growing up in school and had a good aesthetic eye. Winning several state art and design competitions gave me enormous self-confidence in this area and contemplated studying art at university before my father intervened.
Anyone who has ever read My Name is Asher Lev,by Chaim Potok, will understand how painful and tortuous that decision was for me not to pursue my love for art. Now much older, I can see my father’s wisdom more clearly and so I have no regrets.
Watching The Benny Hill Show (and many repeats!) for laughs also gave me the appreciation for the female form.
Thus, the blend of medicine, art and appreciation of the female form was the ideal marriage for me to pursue a career in plastic surgery.
Passionate about art and aesthetics, I am an avid art collector and have even harboured thoughts of owning an art gallery.
I started gallery hopping and doing the rounds more than 30 years ago- I bought my first two major paintings whilst back-packing in Salvador, Bahia in Brazil and fell in love with the Afro-Brazilian culture. Interestingly, the artist turned out to be Menelaw Sete who is now internationally renowned as “The Picasso of Brazil.”
There are other works from many parts of the world collected after travelling to these sites to spark back the memories and perhaps aptly reflect the personality of the collector.
Over the years we have amassed a large collection of paintings and photographic art, from indigenous to contemporary art which (in theory at least) was to be circulated amongst our three clinics to be enjoyed by both staff and patients.
I have now run out of wall space at home, so despite being almost “empty nesters,” I need a bigger space to display our artwork!
Lives well-lived share consistent themes of family, contribution to community, kindness through small, simple acts and love.
Which brings me to the most important influence in my life – my mum, who personified everything beautiful in life, including all the themes I just mentioned.
Too many great people to mention have influenced my life professionally, as I’m also an avid reader.
Reading about the lives of others gives us clues as to what’s most important in life.
I do believe that “leaders are readers” and my kids would attest to that as they spent many weekends visiting bookstores with me. I always taught them that reading increases your vocabulary and your clarity of expression – just do it.
I’ve become more philosophical these days (immersing myself in Stoic philosophy).
I’m less willing to waste my time, listening to negative people or to miss an opportunity to be loving, to champion another human being or have some fun.
To reach your “Mt. Everest” I believe that you need the following three things as a minimum.
- Cut your excuses in half and double the action you take- success is much less about IQ and much more about hard work.
- Be a contrarian- leave the herd mentality. This took me a long time to understand and then took a while to implement until I was much more self-confident because my thinking was always “out of the box” or “disruptive”. Remember, that all geniuses were first laughed at before they were revered.
- You need grit- never give up, be persistent. And please fall in love with your craft and vision. You don’t get lucky- you create your own luck and that all masters suffer.
For me the word “beauty” is the most overused, misunderstood, poorly defined word in the English language.
As a cosmetic plastic surgeon I am often asked how I would define beauty.
When asked this question, I’m always reminded of a quote from Confucius, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
What makes a woman or man beautiful? The Holy Grail of beauty has never been completely understood.
The cliché, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” is incorrect in my opinion. It is “perception of beauty” that is in the eye of the beholder. Each of us has a different perception of beauty as we all have different tastes, likes and dislikes, and this affects our definition and perception of beauty with respect to the ideal woman or man.
As a plastic surgeon, it is my job to counsel people about this perception of beauty because so many misconceptions exist.
Unfortunately, we rely on “beauty authorities,” such as Hollywood movies, fashion designers and style experts to define beauty for us.
The standards and criteria of beauty set by our society have been manipulated and bastardized and are wrong, absurd and unrealistic.
Our role models have become 20-something starlets and fashion models whose photographs have been carefully orchestrated, airbrushed, photoshopped and drastically altered.
In person, these people do not look like their photos!
To quote Oscar Wilde; “You don’t love a woman because she is beautiful, but she is beautiful because you love her.”
For me what that means is that we must recognize a woman’s inner and outer beauty by changing their attitude and being able to take an honest, positive look at themselves. When they look in the mirror, they need to see the glass half full and not just half empty.
Women should identify and embrace those individual attributes they have that make them beautiful, and then learn to accentuate them. Learn to celebrate your best features and set realistic, achievable goals regarding your own beauty.
We, as a society, should allow a woman’s beauty to evolve with her as she ages to suit her current stage of life.
Age with dignity, while still looking your best and, more importantly, still looking like you.
It is my opinion that a combination of physical and mental traits truly makes a woman beautiful. So much of a woman’s beauty is under her direct control and we as plastic surgeons need to encourage her to learn to take control.
I believe that achieving wellness and true happiness requires a holistic approach.
I’m a proponent of best-selling author and leadership expert, Robin Sharma, who talks about the four interior empires – mindset, heartset, healthset and soulset – for personal growth of an individual.
Mindset is your psychology and you can have a great psychology and strong beliefs. But if you have a toxic heart you’re going to sabotage yourself.
Heartset is your emotionality and so if you have a stone psychology, when you’re full of sadness, pain, anger, you haven’t forgiven people, you’re not going to be creative for not getting world-class.
Healthset is understanding that energy is even more valuable than intelligence. Your healthset is about your vitality, energy protection and living a long life so you can serve and do great things.
And then soulset is connecting to your higher nature and noble virtues every morning while the rest of the world is asleep.
Remember, “Today is all we have, tomorrow is just an illusion.”
DR. TIM PAPADOPOULOS
Plastic Surgeon BSc, MBBS, FRACS (General), FRACS (Plastics)
Regarded as one of the top plastic surgeons in Australia, Dr. Tim Papadopoulos’ national status is underscored by his election as president of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) in 2014-2016 and being appointed Board Director and Visiting Professor of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) in 2018.
He has been, on behalf of ASAPS, the Scientific Convener for the Non-Surgical Symposium and Anatomy Dissection Workshop and also a dissector/tutor for various anatomy workshops including the world-renowned Melbourne Advanced Facial Anatomy Course (MAFAC).
Dr. Papadopoulos is a specialist Plastic Surgeon known for providing patients with exceptional care from the initial consultation, in the operating room and through to post-operative follow-up. He is the Head of Plastic Surgery at Westmead Private Hospital, as well as, the Founder and Medical Director of CosmeticCulture Clinics in Sydney.
He earned his Science and Medical degrees from Monash University, Melbourne. He completed postgraduate training in both General Surgery in Melbourne and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in Sydney. Dr. Papadopoulos underwent further subspecialty training and attained Fellowships in both Cosmetic Surgery and Hand, Wrist & Microsurgery. Dr. Papadopoulos has contributed several chapters to plastic surgery textbooks and has authored and co-authored numerous articles in national and international peer-reviewed publications. He is actively involved in various research projects in the areas of functional abdominoplasty, facial rejuvenation, platysmal bands, BIA-ALCL and gut microbiome, fillers and toxins, skin cancers and lasers. He serves on the board of reviewers for the Aesthetic Surgery Journal (ASJ), Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Journal (APS) and the Australasian Journal of Plastic Surgery (AJOPS).
Dr. Papadopoulos is a current member of the following associations: ASAPS, ISAPS, the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), The Aesthetic Society (USA), the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). He is a frequent lecturer and speaker both nationally and internationally, and has appeared on TV and radio shows, and is regularly consulted and quoted in the print media.