Q&A with Dr. Gregory Alouf of Alouf Aesthetics
How did you end up going into medicine?
I always liked science and figuring out how things work. I never minded going to the doctor as a kid. In fact, I was fascinated by what they did. Then, my mom got really sick when I was 12 years old, and I felt so helpless not being able to do anything. That had a real effect on me, because I knew I wanted to do something to help people.
I was sort of your normal crazy teenager, though, so I wasn’t all that focused in school. My first job was actually in construction. I’ve done drywall, siding, carpentry, framing, even just general labor work. I also drove a tractor-trailer!
Still, I knew I didn’t want to do that kind of work forever. I always liked artistic things — building and creating, but I didn’t know where it was going. I had been to community college and gotten an associate’s degree, and one day I had this epiphany that I wanted to go back to school. I registered, did very well in my first semester and the switch just turned on. I knew I wanted to be a doctor. It hit me like a ton of bricks.
What inspired you to pursue cosmetic surgery as your specialty?
Originally, I didn’t want to be a surgeon. It can be a fierce, competitive, dog-eat-dog world, and that just isn’t me. So after going through the rotations in medical school, I decided I could really offer something in family medicine. You get to do a little of everything, and that seemed so amazing to me.
I enjoyed family medicine, but I still wanted to do more. I had always liked cosmetics because it’s so artistic, so I took a laser hair removal course and I was bitten by the cosmetic surgery bug. From then on, I took every course I could get my hands on. I’ve been around the world to study and train, even training with inventors of certain procedures. The more I learned, the more I knew I was hooked.
What has been the most rewarding part of your career in cosmetic surgery?
Cosmetic surgery can give people their lives back. I’ve seen people go through complete transformations after having just one simple procedure. It changes their whole self-image and increases their self-worth. For example, maybe you’ve got someone who’s struggled with losing that last bit of weight. You do a tummy tuck, and all of a sudden, their diet changes, they lose weight, they have more energy, they are on fire! It’s just amazing what changing a little thing about someone’s appearance can do for them.
What is exciting to you about your field right now?
Fat! As cosmetic surgery develops, being able to move fat around on someone’s body opens up so many possibilities. I can work with someone who has a little extra weight around the middle and a flat butt, for example. We can take them from a boxy figure to a beautiful, graceful hourglass. I call it “reshuffling the inventory.” You’re really shaping and molding when you do that. It’s true artistry, and that’s why I love it.
What’s the biggest myth or misconception in your field?
The biggest myth in our field is that board certification in plastic surgery equates to safety or a better result. The goals of reconstructive plastic surgery are to repair defects or restore function, so plastic surgeons get a lot of training in general and reconstructive surgery. Their training may include cosmetic surgery, but it could be as little as three months and won’t include as many procedures as cosmetic surgery training.
The goal of cosmetic surgery is to enhance a patient’s appearance and, to a lesser extent, restore function. Cosmetic surgeons receive extensive training in cosmetics — hundreds of cosmetic surgical procedures and nonsurgical treatments. So while a board certification in plastic surgery is evidence of training and experience in plastic surgery — that is, reconstruction and repair — it’s not an indicator of the level of training or experience a surgeon has had in cosmetic surgical procedures.
What would you be doing if you hadn’t gone into medicine?
I still do some construction-related/creative work. I flip old houses. Again, I get to apply artistry to the project to give something new life. If I hadn’t gone into medicine, I’d probably be a builder or a contractor. I love making beautiful things.
What do you do outside work?
I spend time with my family. My wife, who is studying to be a nurse practitioner, works here. She’s learned so much and keeps things running. I have three wonderful children who are all in sports right now, so I give a lot of time to that. We also have an RV and we like to go on family adventures.
What is most important to the staff at Alouf Aesthetics?
This is not a corporate-feeling place. We’re a family. Because of that, patients are just as important to the staff as they are to me. We work together as a practice to give the patient the very best patient experience we can.
Favorite musician: Michael Jackson, Prince, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston
Favorite food: I’m Lebanese, so that’s very near and dear to my heart. Really, anything ethnic.
Favorite vacation spot: Caribbean (Dominican Republic, Barbados)
Favorite movie: “Groundhog Day”
Favorite app on your phone: Snapchat and Instagram
Favorite quote: “To teach is to learn twice.” — Joseph Joubert
Favorite family activity: Going to the beach
Favorite spot around Roanoke: Home with my family