“My father was a furniture maker and an engineer and as boys we used to go to the factory during school holidays. I used to love making small pieces of furniture with my hands and fixing items that were broken – I was always very good with my hands. I knew I wanted to be a surgeon, but I didn’t know what specialty to focus on.”
“I went to medical school in Johannesburg, which at the time, was rated in the top 10 in the world. I completed my degree in 1982 and commenced my internship at the renowned Baragwaneth Hospital in Soweto. My internship covered a surgical term, a medical term, obstetrics and gynecology.”
Following his internship, Dr. David Caminer managed to gain a position as a Senior House Officer in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Johannesburg General and Hillbrow Hospitals for 6 months.
It was at that time that he was due to commence his compulsory National Service, however he left South Africa at that time and obtained permanent residency in Australia.
“Within three weeks of arriving in Australia I secured a Surgical Resident position for one year at the Launceston General Hospital in Tasmania. I had to sit for the AMEC exam, to enable me to work in mainland Australia.”
Dr. Caminer’s next position was as a Surgical Registrar at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where he worked in numerous specialties including intensive care, orthopedics, melanoma, liver transplant, neurosurgery, and vascular surgery.
He was chosen as the Microsurgery Fellow at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney for one year in 1990, later securing a position on the Plastic Surgery training scheme in 1991.
He fully completed his training in Plastic Surgery by 1993.
“After my fellowship exams I sat the American Exam (USMLE), passed and obtained a Fellowship position at the Cleveland Clinic in Fort Lauderdale and Cleveland. I remained in America until 1995 when I took up a VMO position at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney.”
“I was Chairman of the Dept. of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery from 1999 to 2006. I stepped down as a VMO and became a HMO at St Vincent’s in 2008 and remain so to date.”
“I was made Secretary of the NSW Chapter of Plastic Surgeons in 1997 and the Secretary of ASAPS for two years from 2010-2012. During my tenure as secretary of ASAPS I was responsible for the New ASAPS logo that is currently used.”
Currently, Dr. Caminer focuses on his two private practices in Potts Point, Sydney and in Wollongong.
“My scope of practice is still broad because I like variety. I do around eighty percent cosmetic surgery, be it face, eyes, nose, neck, breasts, abdomen and liposuction. I still enjoy performing microsurgery and continue to perform skin cancer excisions and reconstructions, genital surgery, breast cancer reconstructions etc.”
In his spare time Dr. Caminer runs and cycles to keep fit and mostdays you will find him up at five in the morning exercising.
“I also enjoy snow skiing and bush walking. I love art, interior design and used to be a keen potter and photographer. I also enjoy cooking and travelling.”
Through Dr. Caminer’s lengthy and exciting career he explains that there are a number of highlights that he considers to be defining moments in his life. One of these moments was when as a 4th year medical student he was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with Lawrence Chait, one of Johannesburg’s top Plastic and Reconstructive surgeons and from that moment he became totally hooked.
“In addition to being an excellent surgeon, Chait was an artist and he had such dexterity and ease with his hands, even when working under the microscope.”
“Another highlight was when I performed the world’s first total tracheal reconstruction. As this procedure had never been previously executed by anyone, I had the opportunity to plan this ground breaking surgery, perform the operation and most importantly, the patient successfully survived the difficult procedure post operatively.”
Dr. Caminer reminds us that when considering any plastic surgery procedure, one must always have realistic expectations. He also reminds us that it is an important part of his role as the plastic surgeon, to give the patient realistic expectations and advice on how to achieve the best outcome.
“Choose a surgeon who has good training and is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, not a cosmetic surgeon who has had no formal plastic surgery training. Choose a surgeon who you can trust and who you think has your best interest at heart.”
Dr. Caminer reminds us that throughout his 20 years as a plastic surgeon, he gains the most reward from knowing that his patients are happy and that he is providing a world-class surgery service, offering best possible outcomes to his patients.
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