World-renowned Russian plastic surgeon takes his talents to Dubai, raising the bar for aesthetic excellence
Q&A with Dr Dmitry Melnikov, plastic and reconstructive surgeon
Dr Dmitry Melnikov, an acclaimed plastic and reconstructive surgeon renowned in Russia according to Tatler magazine’s list of top surgeons, has recently secured a medical permit from the Dubai Health Authority that allows him to perform surgical procedures in the UAE.
Dr Melnikov is the Russian National Vice Secretary for the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ISAPS) and an active member of the World Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery. He was the surgeon who performed the operation to remove the synthol oil and dead muscle tissue from the biceps of the Russian bodybuilder dubbed Popeye.
- Why did you choose Dubai as the next destination for your medical practice?
After exploring multiple locations for my medical practice, I settled on Dubai due to its allure of opportunity. With burgeoning potential in the plastic and medical fields, state-of-the art facilities and a diverse patient population, this cosmopolitan city was an ideal fit for me as both a professional and an individual.
- How developed do you think the aesthetics sector is in the UAE and the Middle East region?
With its wide range of impressive beauty and wellness services, the aesthetics sector in the UAE and the Middle East region has grown significantly over recent years. From modern spas to cosmetology clinics offering everything from advanced treatments to aesthetic therapies, it is clear that the UAE is establishing itself as a world leader in this field. I believe the region has incredible potential in terms of further aesthetics development.
- You specialize in SEIA and DIEP flap surgeries. Tell us more about these types of operations.
With advances in modern medical technology, women who have undergone mastectomies due to breast cancer can now benefit from two innovative procedures for reconstructing their breasts: Superficial Inferior Epigastric Artery (SEIA) and Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) flaps. These cutting-edge treatments allow a woman’s own tissue to be used in creating new, natural looking breasts.
SEIA and DIEP flaps have the potential to restore a sense of femininity and empowerment in female patients who have undergone mastectomy or tumor removal. By naturally restoring lost body tissue, the procedures can be life-changing, imbuing women with an improved outlook on their role in society.
I take pride in being a member of an elite medical group—fewer than 1,000 doctors worldwide are qualified to perform these types of surgeries. I am also proud to have made history in 2019 when I became the first surgeon ever to perform a DIEP flap surgery in Uzbekistan. Over the past decade, I have performed hundreds of these surgeries.
- What part of these procedures do you consider to be a categorical imperative for their success?
Precision. Both SIEA and DIEP surgeries involve incisions to harvest a flap of complete tissue comprising skin, fat and blood vessels from the lower abdomen. The flap is then shaped into a new breast or used to cover any major traumatic defect. The success of SIEA and DIEP procedures is predominantly defined by the surgeon’s ability to accurately reach the right vessel while harvesting the flap, leaving the abdominal muscle intact.
- You invented a medical imaging procedure to support you in pre-operative assessment. Tell us about the ‘Melnikov protocol’ and how it differs from the usual MRI protocols.
I developed an augmented MRI protocol that makes wrong incision a problem of the past. The ‘Melnikov protocol’ enhances the precision, speed and quality of reconstructive surgery.
While traditional MRI protocols are designed to optimally assess a particular region of the body, I have added an overlay of coordinates to the MRI scan process in order to precisely determine the position of vessels to be harvested with the flap.
Using a custom-made, geometric 3D panel with latitude and longitude lines, I am also able to specifically measure the distance where the incision should be made, allowing me to harvest the flap without compromising the muscle during the procedure.
- Is it common for plastic surgeons to use MRI for such procedures?
While no one used MRI technology for DIEP planning before, the protocol I created adds a new layer of surgical precision by rendering a 3D model of the abdominal wall prior to the surgery, supporting me in visualizing and locating the right perforator vessel that will be targeted during the flap harvest.