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Dr Shazia studied MSc Dermatology at Cardiff University and now absolutely loves her job as an aesthetic dermatologist and has performed complex operations that achieved brilliant results.
Student name: Dr Shazia Ali
Course: MSc Dermatology
Country: Saudi Arabia
Year of graduation: 2004
Current employer: Al-Tababah Specialised Clinic
According to her, increasing someone’s self-esteem and changing lives is the most gratifying parts of her job. She strongly believes that her experience in Cardiff helped her in becoming a better doctor and a better dermatologist.
Why did you choose Cardiff University to do your degree?
When I was planning to work on my postgraduate degree in dermatology I was considering both London and Cardiff.
I chose Cardiff because it was a quieter place and yet, it was the student capital of Europe. It was away from the hustle and bustle and allowed me to focus on my career development without distractions.
The University looked very impressive. The dermatology department looked very professional with a good inflow of patients. The curriculum seemed suitable to my needs as it included both pathological and cosmetic aspects of dermatology. The price for the course was less than London and that alone was an instant plus.
Do you think Cardiff University equipped you with the necessary skills for your job?
I strongly believe that my experience in Cardiff helped me in becoming a better doctor and a better dermatologist. I had done one-year residency in medicine and dermatology prior to my signing up for the program in Cardiff.
I feel that my time at Cardiff polished my skills as a dermatologist and further enriched my knowledge overall. During regional academic meetings I saw so many rare cases that most dermatologists only read about in their textbooks. We had interactive out-patient clinics, engaging medical rounds in the derma ward, stimulating lectures as well as practical sessions. It was a very comprehensive experience and it has helped me become a successful dermatologist today.
Tell me a little about your time living as a student in Cardiff.
Living in Pakistan and later in Saudi, I was used to always being taken care of: maids, cooks, drivers – the whole shebang. At first it was a real challenge living all by myself, maintaining my townhouse, doing my own cooking, driving everywhere, running errands and doing chores.
Being independent and tackling my life alone made me stronger as a person. For me, student life in Cardiff also meant expanding my vision of the world and the possibilities it has to offer. I got to know people from all over the world and learnt about their cultures and countries. I also travelled to small towns in north Wales, central UK and Europe. All in all, it was a life-changing experience and I will be forever grateful for it.
Tell me about the day to day responsibilities of an aesthetic dermatologist like yourself. How does an average work day look like?
I am currently acting as the head of Aesthetic Dermatology Department in a private establishment – Al Tababah Specialized Clinic. 90% of the bulk of my work revolves around doing aesthetic procedures. During a regular day I see 20-30 patients, perform Botox, hyaluronic acid injections, chemical peels, laser hair reduction, laser treatments, etc.
I also do regular and laser-assisted liposuction and fat transfer surgeries on dedicated days. I am one of the pioneers in Saudi Arabia who’s doing Brazilian butt lifts and fat augmentation for the breasts.
In addition I do see a mix of dermatological patients with eczema, acne vulgaris, psoriasis, vitligo, skin infections (viral, bacterial, fungal) etc.
I also write once weekly dermatology blog called Dermasphere - check it out on blogspot.co.uk
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I simply love doing what I do!
Serving people and alleviating their skin afflictions and pain is a very gratifying experience. I take immense pleasure in helping my clients get closer to their desired image and adding value to their lives. Assisting my clients, achieving beauty and improving self-esteem makes me feel good about myself too. There are moments where I have a chance to make a dramatic change in someone’s life and there are no words to explain those feelings.
You’ve had a very exciting career in dermatology – what has been the most challenging case you’ve had to deal with so far and how did that go?
In my private practice, the most challenging case I have seen was a woman walking in with half of her face missing. She had done some long-term filler in Egypt that later got inflamed and infected. Some dermatologist in Egypt attempted to remove it surgically and ended up deforming her face.
When she walked through my clinic door my staff and me were horrified to see her, it looked like an animal attacked her and took multiple bites out of right side of her face.
We planned sessions of fat and plasma augmentation for restoring the lost volume and fractional resurfacing for the external scars. Six months later she was looking as if nothing ever happened to her face, ever. External scars were removed by 90-95% and cheek volume was balanced nicely. Every time she comes to Jeddah she passes by just to say hello and let me know how grateful she is to get her real face back.