Americans like to look good and the man many New Yorkers favor to give them those good looks is Dr. Theodore Diktaban, who began his practice 30 years in reconstructive surgery and is now one of Manhattan’s leading cosmetic surgeons.
by Maria Elena Palau
New York City’s first Greek American plastic surgeon,Dr. Theodore Diktaban, credits his high school biology teacher and his family with inspiring him to go into medicine, but it was actually his own health issue that helped him choose his specialty.
Diktaban, the oldestof four children, grew up in Westbury, NY, to first generation Greek parents. His grandparents settled in New York after leaving Greece and Turkey during the early 1900s. He is the first doctor in his family.
He says his tenth-grade biology teacherat Westbury High School motivated him to pursue pre-med in college. “He was one of the most influential teachers I ever had and biology really captured my interest.”
After getting his undergraduate degree from Colgate University, Dr. Diktaban went on to New York Medical College. It was there, when he needed surgery to fix a deviated septum that his future as a surgeon decided.
Although the plan was to have the deviated septum fixed, the surgeon asked Dr. Diktaban if he wanted him to “fix the outside of his nose as well.” Dr. Diktaban agreed. The rest is history.
“Not only was I able to breathe better, I looked better too,” he says. Little did he know that his “nose job” would be so “fascinating.” “It was amazing to me how thedoctor did everything from inside the nose to sculpt a pleasing change on the outside without any scars.”
It turned out to be his “aha” moment because that is when heknewhe wanted to be a surgeon. He went on to complete his residency at Lenox Hill Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital.
Dr. Diktaban says when he started his practice in 1983 most of the work was reconstructive surgery. Today, after years of experience he has developed a private cosmetic surgery practice that incorporates both non-invasive and invasive procedures.
“Lasers, fillers, Botox are all very popular for very good reasons,” the doctor says. “When people age now, there are so many choices that can be tailored to their individual goals, time schedules, philosophy, etc.
Diktaban, whose practice is based in midtown Manhattan, says the most popular procedures are rhinoplasty, liposuction and breast augmentation.
He says one of the best parts of being a plastic surgeon is making patients happy. “When you can meet a patient’s expectationsand then see the transformation take place right before your eyes, it is a feeling of sheer joy. They now look better, feel better about themselves and this carries over into how they live their lives with enhanced happiness, confidence and success. The transformation can present itself in many different ways. It could manifest itself subtly by a different look in their eye, a different look in their dress style, or on a larger scale, a career changing venture.
As a man of education and innovation, Dr. Diktaban says he also loves bringing the newest technology to his patients.
One of those revolutionary new procedures is called Cellulaze, a unique laser that works by targeting the source of cellulite, under the skin, where lotions, potions, or heating/massage devices cannot.
“Cellulaze is a game- changing advancement in the treatment of cellulite which really bothers 80% of women,” says Dr. Diktaban. “It’s a one-time minimally invasive office based treatment with long lasting results.”
“There is no other treatment presently like it that is FDA approved and can safely correct the anatomy of cellulite,” he adds.
Dr. Diktaban believes doctors must work closely with their patients in order to help them make the right decisions. There are just so many options today which can be very confusing to choose from. You need to spend the time to listen to, educate, and assist your patients with their inquiry into the field of plastic surgery. Dr. Diktaban strongly feels that the more time a doctor spends up front with his patients, the more likely a successful outcome will be achieved.
As for his Greek heritage, Dr. Diktaban says he has strong ties to the Greek Church and community.By his last name alone you might think that he is not of Greek descent. He can assure us that he is 100% Greek. In turns out that his last name was shortened from Diktabanides many years ago.
He recalls his first trip to Greece as a 15 year old with his brother, George. They were participating in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese’s youth travel programto Greece. “We traveled by boat on the Queen Frederica to Greece where we spent three gloriously memorable weeks based just outside of Athens.”
He says it was a wonderful introduction to his family’s homeland. Ever since that time, the doctor continues to travel to Greece periodically for both business and pleasure.
“Every time I am in Athens, I love going to the Acropoliswith the intent of taking that one memorable photograph that captures either the sunlight or the moonlight as it touches the sacred marble architectural wonder of the world.
“I always try to experience different parts of Greece with every trip I have taken.” Of course, I have my favorites like Mykonos, Rhodes and Sifnos.
Dr. Diktaban is also very active in the Hellenic Medical Society. He was a first vice-president for 4 years and also the chairperson of the medical student scholarship program for over 20 years. The society brings together his love for his culture and the passion for medicine.
The surgeon has lived in Manhattan ever since medical school and says, “even though it’s a concrete jungle, a crowded amusementpark and an expensive ala carte restaurant, I still love it.”
His advice to medical school students: “you have to love the anatomy and physiology of the field that you will be specializing in.”“Whether it’s the heart for a heart surgeonor the kidneys for a kidney specialist, you have to love the territory and everything that goes along with it.”
Dr. Diktaban also says being a doctor is a“great profession and will always be a great profession.” “You’re taking care of your fellow man and woman, and there is always going to be a new discovery, a new technology,or a new technique that will improve our lives.” “It’s never boring and it’s always rewarding,” he adds.
When this New York City surgeon is not practicing medicine, you can find him either on the golf course or sitting behind a set of drums. They are two passions of his dating back to when he was 12 years old. You might catch him practicing with members of his rock band, all who work in healthcare. The group is appropriately named “Life Support.”They have played on multiple occasions at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village.
“I have been lucky and blessed to have been raised and loved by my immediate family and my not so fat Greek relatives” he says, “to be part of a worthy profession, and to have other passions in life that provide me with joy, insight, humility and thrills.”