Being a plastic surgeon requires scientific expertise and skill, but it also requires a certain artistry and ingenuity to give patients the precise results they want and need.
Biological Sciences alum Dr. Sam Sukkar owns The Clinic for Plastic Surgery in Houston, Texas, and has 18 years of plastic surgery experience. He has completed over 5,000 procedures. He and his team pride themselves on providing the best patient care and procedures to fit their patients’ needs and expectations.
We asked Dr. Sukkar to tell us more about his passion for plastic surgery and how LSU has been (and still is) a major influence in his life.
LSU College of Science: What drew you to plastic surgery and what do you enjoy most about the profession?
Dr. Sukkar: I always knew I wanted to be a surgeon, but I was not always positive about which path I would take from there. When I was exposed to surgery in medical school, I immediately fell in love. I enjoyed general surgery, but it wasn’t until I was exposed to plastic surgery that I really had that “aha” moment.
Plastic surgery is the pinnacle of everything surgery. A plastic surgeon is seen as a master surgeon who is innovative, who can think on his feet, and whom other physicians call on when they need assistance. After making this realization, I knew this was the type of physician I wanted to become.
LSU College of Science: How did LSU College of Science prepare you for a career as a plastic surgeon?
Dr. Sukkar: My time at the LSU College of Science laid the foundation of science necessary to successfully complete medical school. I was able to interact with like-minded peers in a collegial environment.
LSU College of Science: What does your daily schedule look like?
Dr. Sukkar: A typical surgery day consists of 8-10 hours of cases. When I am not in surgery, I stay busy running the practice, which also includes my own surgical suite and a medical spa. My team leaders and I participate in weekly leader meetings to formulate strategy and focus on continued growth. I set aside time each day for patient follow-up appointments. In addition, I just received my MBA from that other Louisiana school (Tulane), so you could often find me in my office studying in between surgery cases.
LSU College of Science: The medical field can be high stress. What do you do to unwind, de-stress, and have fun?
Dr. Sukkar: I like to spend time at our beach house in Galveston. I enjoy hanging out with my family, friends and new puppy, Gumbo. Actually, I don’t know if he’s relieving my stress or adding to it. Regardless, he’s definitely a ton of fun!
LSU College of Science: What is something that you do that most people don’t associate with plastic surgery?
Dr. Sukkar: Diversity. I operate on all types of people. Some of my patients do fit the typical perception, but I have patients of all shapes and sizes, each with their own unique body goals.
LSU College of Science: What are the dangers associated with plastic surgery that people usually aren’t aware of and need to know?
Dr. Sukkar: Beware of the plastic surgery imposters - counterfeit surgeons who don’t have the proper training. This doesn’t mean that board-certified plastic surgeons don’t ever have issues, but there are doctors out there who have never been trained in aesthetic surgeries. You wouldn’t have a plastic surgeon pull your teeth out, would you? Proper schooling and training are essential to producing the best results.
LSU College of Science: What are some questions patients should ask their plastic surgeon before going through with a procedure?
Dr. Sukkar: A few important questions to ask your plastic surgeon include:
- Is this surgeon Board Certified in plastic surgery? And how long have they been board certified?
- How many procedures (of the particular surgery you are interested in) have they completed?
How long they have been in practice?
LSU College of Science: What would you say is your specialty?
Dr. Sukkar: I would have to say my specialty is body contouring. I no longer perform simple “liposuction.” Instead, each of my patients undergoes “liposculpture,” strategically removing fat to unveil contoured bodies.
LSU College of Science: You and your team have received a number of commendations and recognition for your work. How have you been able to maintain such a stellar reputation?
Dr. Sukkar: By living in accordance to the golden rule - treat people as you would want to be treated. I also ensure we stay on the cutting edge of technology while not compromising the patient's safety. And in plastic surgery, knowing when to say no is an incredibly hard concept that many in my position have not yet learned.
Dr. Sukkar founded the Plastic Surgery from the Heart Foundation in 2016 to provide corrective and reconstructive medical services to those in need. He and his SukkarStars are able to perform complementary services each month and fund quarterly, day-long events servicing a larger group of patients in need through this foundation.
LSU College of Science: What inspired you to start the Plastic Surgery from the Heart Foundation?
Dr. Sukkar: In 2015, my family and I were able to participate in a mission trip to Costa Rica. I was able to help so many people in the short amount of time I was in the country. While I really valued the experience, I realized upon returning to the States that my very own community could benefit from my assistance. Being a plastic surgeon is truly a gift, and not being able to share this with those who have some misfortune in their life would be beyond selfish. It is my obligation to give back. Rather than participating in far away mission trips, I prefer to start close to home. This allows me to have a more direct and powerful impact on my community.
LSU College of Science: Preparing for a career in medicine includes rigorous study and preparation. What advice do you have for LSU students who aspire to pursue a career in plastic surgery?
Dr. Sukkar: My dad would tell me, “the cream always rises to the top.” You get what you deserve. If you work hard, you deserve what that brings. Everyone is capable, but are they willing to put in the sweat that’s required to achieve their ultimate goals? A famous football player once said, “today I do what others won’t so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.” These are lessons I try to instill in all of my children, but especially in Hannah, who also wants to become a plastic surgeon.
LSU College of Science: What is your favorite memory from LSU?
Dr. Sukkar: My favorite times while attending LSU were probably sitting in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night, watching a great football game or tailgating with my friends. As a child, my parents also attended LSU. I grew up “LSU.” Yes, I went to college there, but it was also part of my everyday life growing up. My family lived two blocks away from campus. I remember I had a white transistor radio from Radio Shack, and I would listen to the LSU games late at night after I was told to go to bed. I could even hear the roar of the fans from my bedroom window! I spent many nights with that radio hidden underneath my pillow, thinking “I’ll be there one day.”
Being an LSU Tiger has become a family affair. Not only did Dr. Sukkar and his parents graduate from LSU, but both of Dr. Sukkar’s siblings also graduated with LSU degrees. His older brother Dr. Salim Sukkar is an anesthesiologist here in Baton Rouge and his younger sister Dr. Adlah Sukkar is a pulmonologist practicing in Virginia. His mother also graduated the same time as his sister with a degree in History. Dr. Sam Sukkar’s legacy continues as his two oldest children, Joseph and Hannah, are currently attending LSU.
LSU College of Science: Are there any fun rivalries between you and your siblings?
Dr. Sukkar: Are there any fun sibling rivalries between me and my siblings? Like who is the best doctor?! OH YEAH! But they all know I am. I even went back to school for my MBA to prove it to them! We would all agree that I’m the biggest LSU fan since I’m the most involved, especially with Joseph and Hannah there. I would also win the rivalry for most hair - I take after my mother with this thick lustrous hair.
LSU College of Science: What experience did you have while being a student at LSU that you hope your own children can experience as students here?
Dr. Sukkar: I wish for them the same sense of belonging I felt at LSU. I hope that they look back at their time at LSU later in life and have the same nostalgia for LSU that I have.
LSU College of Science: What does LSU mean to you and your family and what does it mean to you all to be LSU alumni (and future LSU alumni)?
Dr. Sukkar: At this point in our lives, we realize that much of our success was created and nurtured at LSU. Even though I also spent time at The University of Texas and at Northwestern University, LSU is #1 in my heart. It is truly an honor to give back so that the next generation will be able to have and enjoy what we did. I like to say I stand on the shoulders of giants. Maybe someday I will be remembered as someone who always gave back, allowing others to forge a new path because of an opportunity that my family (through LSU) was able to help provide.
LSU College of Science: What’s your favorite way to show your Tiger Spirit while living in Texas?
Dr. Sukkar: My favorite scrub cap to wear in the OR is my purple LSU cap! We have a huge LSU flag flying in our front yard, and my entire office is decorated in Tiger swag.