Let's delve into the journey of Dr. Priya Bansal, an esteemed plastic surgeon whose dedication to the field has transformed the lives of countless individuals. She completed her MBBS from M.K.C.G. Medical College, Berhampur, Odisha (2003–2009), M.S. in General Surgery from S.C.B.M.C.H Cuttack (2010–2013), and DNB in Plastic Surgery from Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi (2014–2017). In an enlightening conversation with Arpita Meher (a medical student at TSMU and content writer at MedBound Times) and Priya Bairagi.
Priya Bairagi: Welcome to MedBound Times. Before starting the interview, can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Dr. Priya Bansal: Hello, everyone! I am Dr. Priya Bansal, a board-certified plastic surgeon practicing in Delhi and Gurgaon. It has been over 12 years since I entered this field, and I am also honored to serve as an executive committee member of the Indian Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. In addition to my clinical practice, I have the privilege of training numerous aspiring plastic surgeons who come to our center to learn the art of aesthetic surgeries from us. Within the expansive realm of plastic surgery, my specialty lies in aesthetic plastic surgery. When I mention this, I'm referring to the art of transforming bodies and enhancing natural beauty. That's what I do.
Priya Bairagi: What motivated you to pursue MBBS and especially to be a plastic surgeon?
Dr. Priya Bansal: I have excelled in academics since childhood. Hailing from a small city, my parents, particularly my father, often proclaimed, "My daughter reads well and excels in academics; she's destined to become a doctor." In those times, professions were often chosen based on one's merit, and this notion became ingrained in me. I began to envision myself in the iconic white coat of a medical practitioner. That's how my journey towards becoming a doctor began.
Now, you may wonder, why specifically plastic surgery?
During our MBBS training, we are exposed to various medical fields. It was during this period that I was introduced to the captivating world of plastic surgery. Witnessing the profound impact these surgeons had on people's lives was truly inspiring. As I mentioned, plastic surgery encompasses a wide spectrum of specialties, from burn victims to trauma patients to those with congenital deformities. Patients would come in, often feeling defeated, and our skilled surgeons would transform not only their physical appearance but also their lives, instilling newfound meaning and hope.
This remarkable ability to boost people's self-confidence and offer them a better quality of life is what motivated me to pursue a career in plastic surgery. I consider it a true blessing to have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of my patients through the work I do.
Priya Bairagi: I noticed when visiting your profile that many female patients seem to prefer you over male plastic surgeons. Is this a noteworthy distinction, and if so, why?
Dr. Priya Bansal: You're correct. When you perused my profile, you may have noticed my extensive focus on understanding the needs and desires of female patients, particularly in terms of achieving a feminine body aesthetic. As a woman and a mother, I have a deep understanding of their unique experiences and how their bodies evolve. I can empathize with the kind of confidence boost they require.
For our patients, opening up and discussing intimate matters, such as breast surgeries, can be challenging. Expressing their preferences regarding breast shape, upliftment, nipple-areola size, and other details become much more comfortable when they consult with a female surgeon. In this sense, it's not only advantageous but also a privilege for me to serve this specific patient population. My ability to relate to their experiences and provide a safe, open environment for consultation is something I hold in high regard.
Priya Bairagi: How do you think social media can be utilized to help people make informed choices when it comes to plastic surgery?
Dr. Priya Bansal: Recently, I embarked on utilizing the immense potential of social media as a means to disseminate information and raise awareness regarding specific procedures, including plastic surgery. When discussing plastic surgery, it's important to emphasize that it encompasses not only the pursuit of aesthetic goals but also the critical aspect of ensuring functionality. Unfortunately, there are numerous taboos, myths, and misconceptions surrounding plastic surgery, which often hinder people from obtaining the right information.
I believe that my daily content creation endeavors play a vital role in educating people about plastic surgery. I also applaud MedBound for its commendable efforts in bringing together a diverse community of professionals under one forum. Together, we can make a meaningful difference in people's lives.
Arpita Meher: Hello, ma'am. I am Arpita Meher, currently in my final year of medical school. If a person who has an interest in pursuing a career as a cosmetologist, similar to your practice. With that in mind, I would like to inquire about the recommended courses or educational paths for individuals interested in entering this field.
Dr. Priya Bansal: Alright, when we delve into the realm of cosmetology, it's important to clarify whether you're inclined toward the clinical aspect of the surgical facet. If your interest lies in the clinical side, you can opt to complete your MBBS and subsequently pursue a specialization in dermatology. This path can be further enhanced by participating in fellowships in cosmetology to excel in that area.
However, if you aspire to perform cosmetic surgeries, then after obtaining your MBBS degree, there are a few different routes to consider. You can choose to pursue an MS in general surgery, followed by a MCh or DNB in plastic surgery. Alternatively, some institutions offer a streamlined six-year program in plastic surgery directly after MBBS. In this program, they initially provide training in general surgery and then progress to shape you into a plastic surgeon. The path you choose will depend on your specific career goals and interests.
Arpita Meher: During a recent webinar, I had the opportunity to hear from a plastic surgeon who also owns an aesthetic clinic. She shared her perspective on choosing the study field and her practice. She mentioned that she did not lean towards government positions because they primarily dealt with burn cases. Instead, she found private practice offered a more expansive and diverse exposure. I'm interested in your thoughts on this matter.
Dr. Priya Bansal: This isn't a melancholic reality; it's the unvarnished truth. The training in plastic surgery, be it in government or private hospitals, often dedicates only a small fraction to aesthetic and cosmetic surgeries. Throughout the three-year plastic surgery training, exposure to and hands-on experience with aesthetic procedures are quite limited. This limited exposure is the very reason why many plastic surgeons opt for fellowships in this field.
In response to this training gap, our center initiated a training program for plastic surgeons. We welcome one or two plastic surgeons every month, providing them with a comprehensive spectrum of plastic and cosmetic surgeries. During their time here, they not only assist in procedures but also receive hands-on training, leaving them with enhanced confidence in performing these surgeries.
It's disheartening that the current MCh or DNB programs in plastic surgery primarily emphasize burns and trauma, with cosmetic surgeries as a lesser focus. However, a positive development is that several centers have introduced externship programs, allowing their students to gain practical experience in aesthetic practices. This helps bridge the gap and enables them to learn about cosmetic surgeries during their training.
Arpita Meher: Ma'am, it's evident that plastic surgery is a rapidly expanding field. Are there any particular trends within this growth that raise your most significant concerns?
Dr. Priya Bansal: I believe that the proliferation of social media filters and beauty correction apps has cultivated a pervasive perception among people. It's created the illusion of unattainable, near-perfect beauty ideals. The truth is, we cannot create identical clones. I often convey to my patients that my role is not to transform them into someone else but to refine and enhance their natural beauty.
This is a concerning trend that prompts us to reflect on the direction in which our society is heading. During consultations with my patients, a paramount step is to align their expectations and provide a realistic understanding of what is achievable and what is not. Many patients bring photos of celebrities, expressing a desire to resemble them. However, they must grasp that while social media is a powerful tool, it has its dual nature. We can address imperfections, but we cannot alter their fundamental identity.
Arpita Meher: Ma'am, when you assess the field of plastic surgery in comparison to other medical disciplines, could you enumerate a few advantages and disadvantages associated with this profession?
Dr. Priya Bansal: In this field, it's important to recognize that both its expansive nature and depth can be both a strength and a challenge. Unlike many other specialties that focus on a specific aspect of medicine, plastic surgery encompasses everything from head to toe, from superficial to deep. This means you must possess a comprehensive understanding of the entire spectrum. Whether this is seen as a pro or con is subjective; it certainly presents a unique challenge.
Because plastic surgery is so vast, it can be difficult for institutions to provide complete training under one roof. Even after three years of training, there may be gaps in your knowledge, necessitating further education to pursue specific interests.
For instance, the center where you receive your training may not excel in hand surgeries, compelling you to seek additional training elsewhere if that's your area of interest. Similarly, if you're interested in microvascular procedures, the center may not offer a comprehensive range of microvascular training.
So, while this diversity can be viewed as both a pro and a con, it certainly offers you a wide array of choices. You have the freedom to explore and determine which specific subfield aligns with your interests, allowing ample time for contemplation.
Await Part 2, when Dr. Priya Bansal discusses her training and her thoughts on medical procedures regarding plastic surgery on faces and bodies, ethical concerns, and taboos.