Rigor and harmony with Dr Sabri Derder

The specialist in plastic and reconstructive surgery at Clinique La Prairie loves nothing more than human interaction. Observing and listening to his patients are as important to the 46-year-old father of four boys as the cosmetic procedure itself.

As soon as he arrived at Clinique La Prairie in 1999, Sabri Derder realised that the excellence of the close-knit team there would provide the ideal conditions in which to expand his practice. He specialises in cosmetic procedures for the face and breasts, preferring to leave reconstructive procedures to others. The stability of this approach enables him to focus his attention on constantly improving the techniques he offers to clients who come from all over the world, thanks to the global reputation of this famous clinic.

It’s late, and the day has been full of post-operative follow-ups. However, that doesn’t stop a good-humoured Dr. Derder from settling down in his living room to recount the story of his life and career. He doesn’t allow fatigue to deprive him of one of his greatest pleasures: talking and exchanging ideas with his fellow men, even if the conversation is of a professional nature.

Between psychology and surgery

As a young man of 17, social interaction was already his prime concern when considering his future career path. “I wanted a job dealing with people where I wouldn’t have to work nights, and which would pay enough to guarantee me a decent standard of living. Becoming a plastic surgeon seemed to fi t the bill, so I aimed for it, and then I carried on…”, he says with a smile. He had a brief moment of hesitation during his studies, during which he headed down the psychiatric route – still in line with his human interests – however it didn’t last: “Too many diffi cult situations with no solution. So frustrating; I couldn’t have handled that”.

Sabri Derder is not a man to leave things unresolved. Offering patients solutions which are mutually satisfying is one of his favourite aspects of the job.

Understanding a person’s beauty

This does not mean that he accepts all the requests he receives for cosmetic procedures. “Many people, especially women, are overly critical of their bodies, and don’t listen to the reassurance they get from their family and friends. In these cases my role is quite important – to offer advice with the authority of a specialist. Very often, I encourage my patients to reconsider, or even actively discourage them. I’m not interested in correcting faults I can’t see myself. I would feel very uneasy about it and, at the end of the day, it would be to no-one’s benefi t”. His consultations are therefore a mixture of listening, observation and psychology – an area in which he has already revealed his interest.

“What can you do with my face, doctor?”. When he hears such general inquiries, Sabri Derder takes his time to respond. He prefers to observe the face as it moves, appreciate the story that life has inscribed there and intuit the person’s desires, before imagining how a procedure could add a touch of softness here or an underlying serenity there…

When in Rio…

Precise movements, a dexterity acquired from performing many operations, the indispensable mastery of 3D… These are undoubtedly important, yet even more crucial to the success of a procedure are planning and an excellent knowledge of tissues and their behaviour when transferred, along with the reconnection of veins and arteries to guarantee healthy living tissue and prevent trauma.

Dr. Derder does not suffer from a shortage of either concentration or coordination – both crucial qualities in a surgeon; he is also an excellent golfer, a sport he has adored since childhood.

He went as far as Brazil and Scotland to acquire these skills. “In Switzerland, I felt there was a lack of opportunities for training in cosmetic procedures. The Brazilians are very advanced in this fi eld, and they work closely with the USA. So you learn the rigour of North American specialists”. Having moved to Rio with their fi rst child, Sabri and Sarah Derder fell in love with Brazil and thought seriously about staying there. Like the weather, life was pleasant and they found the Brazilians very laid back. “There aren’t many things that faze them, and I learnt a lot from them. My reaction to noise, for example – it doesn’t bother me at all now. It’s all about your point of view: If you can tell yourself that someone isn’t making noise to annoy you, but just because they’re living their life, you can stop being annoyed and go to sleep!”.

The four Derder boys 

Nevertheless, the couple returned, with a professional stopover in Scotland. They also brought back their Brazilian nanny, and have retained the habit of speaking Portuguese as a family. As a result, the four boys, aged 17, 15, 12 and 9, are trilingual. “They also speak English, as my wife is originally from Ireland”, explains the devoted dad, who fi nds nothing helps him unwind better after a hard day at work than an in-depth discussion with his sons.

“We have a lot of fun. I love that they’re starting to express their own ideas and tastes, and I’m discovering all kinds of activities through their hobbies, as well as their respective sports – ice hockey, football, rowing. The youngest plays golf with me, and he’s also talking about following my career path. He’s fascinated by the human body and medicine. But he’s still young, so we’ll see!” As a father, he has no intention of insisting his sons go to university; instead he wants them to discover what they love doing best, and then do it as well as they can.

At 46, he has found a balance in terms of both his work and his family. Who could ask for more? “I don’t have any wild plans or pipe dreams. I fi nd meaning in my everyday life by putting my energy into fi nding and developing ever more effi cient working methods and ensuring that my family grows in a harmonious way. I live in the moment. If you’re constantly looking for pleasure in what you could achieve tomorrow, you won’t be happy”.