The doctor is in: One-on-one with Dr Alfred Dawes

Krysta Anderson
Krysta Anderson

May 31, 2021

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American entrepreneur Bill Phillips once said, “Food is the most abused anxiety drug, and exercise is the most underutilised antidepressant.” Obesity in Jamaica continues to be driven by lifestyle choice and is an essential aspect of Dr Alfred Dawes’ career. So too, are body enhancements. The general, laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon continues to change lives, one medical intervention at a time. In fact, his purpose often gives his patients a new lease on life. Today, Flair had a heart-to-heart with the good doctor to learn more about him, on and off the table.

General, laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon Dr Alfred Dawes is changing lives one medical intervention at a time.
  • What’s the most popular procedure you perform? The most popular procedure I perform is liposuction. Some patients have just one problem area, such as the arms or abdomen, that they want corrected, but others want the classic 360 lipo that completely reshapes the midsection.
  • What’s a common misconception about what you do? Stemming from the first question, many people think that when I say my practice is weight-loss surgery, that I only do lipo. Lipo is only one of many procedures, including bariatric surgery, that I perform.
  • How do you balance the personal, professional and political? It is hard, because the job is so demanding that you have to be very deliberate in carving out personal and family time. It is especially more difficult when persons do not respect personal time. With respect to politics, the challenge is twofold. People think that anything you do in the interest of the country always has a hidden agenda to get into politics. I usually respond by saying that if I really wanted to do politics, I would, without a shadow of a doubt, be in Gordon House already. The second challenge for any young person with a national profile is to avoid being used by persons to further their own political agenda.
  • How do you stay in shape? I do a mixture of weightlifting and high-intensity interval training. I have learned through mistakes that doing cardio or resistance training only will not get you to the sweet spot of having a high resting metabolic rate from a higher muscle mass and also having good cardiovascular fitness. It’s best to mix them and ensure adequate protein intake.
  • How does your child/children feel about your profession? My son Aaron has already decided he’s going to be a doctor. Of course, he doesn’t like me reaching home late at night, and says I need to get smart people to work for me so we can do more stuff together. Maybe he’s on to something.
  • Social media influencer, is that a role you ever saw yourself occupying? Wow. I really didn’t see or want that in my future, but I slowly see it happening. I guess my idea of an influencer was clouded by the negative stereotypes of the materialistic, body-flaunting, my-life-is-perfect influencers who cause so much psychological harm. I believe more honesty about our imperfections is needed, so if I become a bona fide influencer, I’ll play my part to promote positivity and humility.
  • You’re a medical spokesperson of Lifespan; what makes the partnership a good fit? Lifespan still has the values of a small mom-and-pop shop that prioritises the welfare of its customers and employees over profits. I like that, especially in a time when executives believe that the sole purpose of a company is to increase shareholder value, even at the expense of their staff and customers. They share my dream for a healthier lifestyle for Jamaicans, and I believe that that, coupled with a great product, makes us the perfect fit to spread the message of a healthy diet going hand with increased physical activity as the way towards a healthier nation. I’m actually very excited about this project as this comprehensive approach has never been embarked on outside of what the Ministry of Health and Wellness has done.
  • Why laparoscopic and bariatric surgery? One of my mentors sponsored a trip to a conference when I was a surgical trainee, in his words, “to mess with my head because I wasn’t thinking big enough”. Needless to say, I was smitten by the advanced surgical procedures I saw there in the form of laparoscopy. And my sole objective thereon was to be one of the best laparoscopic surgeons in the Caribbean. That goal took me to Brazil, where the best surgeon I’ve ever seen up to this day offered to train me. I said whatever he was going to train me in, that was what I was going to do. That was the strange way in which I got into bariatric surgery, but it quickly grew on me, and I love it!
  • What book are you reading now? In Miserable Slavery, the diary of a slavemaster in Jamaica in the 18th century. It immerses you into the daily life on the plantation and colonial life in a way no history text or movie could replicate. I love history, and it is as if I am transported to that period on an emotional roller coaster.
  • What would people be surprised to know you’re very good at? Landscaping and gardening. Gardening is one of my therapies, and I find myself checking out every beautiful property I visit, as well as websites and magazines. You may have to run into me at a flower shop on a Sunday morning for you to believe, though.

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com

Krysta Anderson

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Krysta Anderson

Tackles sex and relationships with honesty and openness. For months, she took readers on a journey of self-exploration with personal dating column 'Single but Iffy to Mingle'. Now she's ready for an even bigger adventure.

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