Dr. Hakan Usal Recreates You

By Melda Akansel -
For humans, the desire to fix physical imperfections or to recreate their looks may be as old as humanity itself. In our day people find themselves at the door of plastic surgeons because they have the desire to have a new look, for psychological reasons or for medical  reasons.
Photo by Melda Akansel.

Plastic surgeons fix imperfections or completely change a part of the body with the touch of a scalpel, thanks to the advances in both technology and the medical practice. Neither a large nose, cellulite-ridden legs nor a sagging stomach has to haunt women anymore, nor do people have to live with the loss of a limb or a face burned in a fire. All of these can be repaired with the use of the plastic surgeons’ gifted hands. “Plastic surgery is a life changing experience,” says Dr. Hakan Usal, one of the most successful aesthetic and reconstructive surgeons in New Jersey and the United States. He helps patients reach their new desired physiques or reclaim their old image at his clinic, Dr. Usal Cosmetic Surgey Center. Dr. Usal, in addition to performing aesthetic surgeries such as face, neck, waist and stomach surgeries, also performs reconstructive and microsurgeries surgeries to repair damage to the face and hands.

Dr. Hakan Usal, who graduated from Istanbul University Cerrahpasa Medical School in 1986, took the first step toward becoming a surgeon by starting a specialization in general surgery. He started his medical career as a practitioner at the Russian border of Turkey at Mount Ararat where Noah's Ark ship was lost. He later trained in general surgery at hospitals in Istanbul and Ankara.

Dr. Usal, who then decided to pursue his studies in plastic surgery in Scotland, had to repeat his general surgery studies while also pursuing his specialty studies because his diploma from Turkey was not accepted. Then taking advantage of an offer, Dr. Usal came to the United States and repeated his general surgery studies for a third time and his plastic surgery studies for a second time at Staten Island University in order to meet the requirements of the American educational system. During the same period, Dr. Usal, who had been accepted at NYU, finished his year-long microsurgery training and then went on to University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey to finish his plastic surgery specialization.

Dr. Hakan Usal opened his own New Jersey clinic in 2000. Usal performs his emergency surgeries and microsurgeries, such as hand and finger reattachments at the Hackensack University Medical Center, and he also works in collaboration with Nyack Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, Valley Hospital and Pascack Valley Hospital.

Dr. Usal performs all of the facial plastic surgeries at Dr. Usal Cosmetic Surgey Center, which has a heavy patient load. Dr. Usal is experts in the field of breast and stomach surgeries. Breast reduction and enlargement, implant placements, face-lifts, neck lifts, liposuction and stomach lifts are the most frequently performed plastic surgeries. In the field of reconstructive surgeries the most common interventions are hand surgeries, broken bones, broken hand bones, tissue repair and facial repairs. An average of 1200 surgeries are performed at Dr. Usal Cosmetic Surgey Center per year with 400 of them aesthetic and 800 of them reconstructive.
Dr. Hakan Usal graduated from Istanbul University Cerrahpasa Medical School in 1986. (Photo by Melda Akansel)

Most of Dr. Usal’s plastic surgery patients hale from Italy or South America. Pointing out that South Americans are extremely focused on beauty and aesthetics, Dr. Usal says, “The women especially are interested in plastic surgery. They come to get their breasts enlarged, stomachs lifted or for liposuction.”

Dr. Usal says that he is very happy that he has many Turkish patients. Just as patients come to him from all four corners of the States, he also has many patients who especially come to him from Turkey. Dr. Usal also says that there are certain problems that he faces with his Turkish patients: “This is not something that is stressed too much in Turkey and it really is neither an accepted nor an understood practice either. When I say, ‘quit smoking then I will perform the surgery’ the patients have an immediate negative reaction. They tell me that no doctor in Turkey had ever suggested such a thing.”

Another large group among Dr. Hakan Usal’s patient profile is made up of his Armenian patients. Being that New Jersey has a large Armenian-Turkish population, many of these patients come to Dr. Usal Cosmetic Surgey Center.

“Mostly my patients are middle-aged and are working professionals. Looking young and dynamic allows people to be more successful in the world of business,” says Dr. Usal, speaking about the benefits of plastic surgery. He also stresses that this is a trend in the United States: “In America leaders, presidents, and managers are all athletically built, healthy, youthful and energetic people. Here everyone wants to work with happy, healthy, confident and energetic people. This is exactly what plastic surgery provides and it increases people’s self-confidence. For example, when a woman gets breast enlargements she can choose her outfits accordingly and when her self-confidence increases then this reflects back onto her professional and her social life. When plastic surgery is done right, the right amount, then it can positively affect a person’s life.”

For this reason he does not operate on every patient who walks in; he first determines if the person’s general health and psychological make up is appropriate for that particular surgery. For example he does not operate on patients who smoke. He explains his reason behind this: “The rate of complications is much higher in patients who smoke. In smokers the skin heals slower, scarring is more prevalent and it is more likely that there will be lung problems after the surgery.” He also does not immediately perform surgeries on those people whom he terms “plastic surgery addicts;” he says these people are never happy with their appearances and he only performs their surgeries if he deems it necessary.

Dr. Hakan Usal visits Turkey from time to time for various conferences and says he is happy about the point that plastic surgery has reached in Turkey today. Usal says that a high level has been reached in the educational system and that in the past few years he has come across many articles from Turkey published in American medical journals. Most of the surgeries that are performed in the United States are also being performed in Turkey, says Usal, and then points out that the only difference between Turkey and the United States is standardization and that this is the cause of certain problems in Turkey. He goes onto say: “I do not feel that there is a huge gap between my colleagues there and here. I even consult on some issues and get advice from my Turkish colleagues. In Turkey, however, due to the educational system, each doctor’s knowledge and experience varies. In the United States you will get a nearly similar result from whichever plastic surgeon you go to. That plastic surgeon’s knowledge and ability will usually be at a standard level. There is a level of standardization. This of course is a result of a level of standardization in education. But that does not exist in Turkey and even though the same things are being done, the differences between plastic surgeons varies greatly.”

Dr. Usal is a scientist who has accomplished much in the way of education and career overseas. He is happy to be in the United States when it comes to the educational system and his profession. He summarizes all that he has accomplished professionally by stating, “This country has given me much that I had asked for. I received the world’s best plastic surgery training.” He points out that the United States welcomes all and adds: “As a doctor who lived and worked in Scotland and England for many years I witnessed a negative attitude towards Turkish people in certain places. This attitude even affected me even though I am a doctor. But from the first day that I came to this country I was received warmly. This is a country that welcomes everyone and gives a working person a chance.” Dr. Usal, who as time goes by misses Turkey more and more, plans to take all that he has accumulated, knowledge and experience, back to Turkey in the future and is working on arranging a part-time working plan for here and Istanbul.
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07