The yin and the yang

Dr Craig Rubinstein’s boundless curiosity about the machinations of the world and his pursuit for perfection fuel his surgical and personal passions.

Dr Craig Rubinstein doesn’t do anything by halves. From working in a buzzing practice to spending his downtime running a farm, for Dr Rubinstein it’s the little details that matter the most and his curiosity often leads him on new ventures.

The Melbourne plastic surgeon is the founder of Cosmetic Surgery for Women and he specialises in breast and tummy tuck procedures.

“I have two passions in life – plastic surgery and my family. Being a doctor and doing medicine is all I ever wanted in life, like my father,” says Dr Rubinstein.

“My equal passion is my family and my incredibly artistic and creative wife Claudia. We are complete opposites, but it works. I like to think that I’m more a combination of architect and engineer, but very meticulous, obsessive-compulsive and mathematical. When I get home I put my wallet, phone and car keys exactly parallel, spaced 3.4cm away from the edge of the table and if it’s not exact I get very agitated, whereas Claudia has never put her car keys down in the same place twice in her life. So we are quite different, but highly complementary.”

Indeed, with a demanding work life and a busy schedule, Claudia, a talented artist and singer, is the yin to his yang.

She says, “As an artist, I am a storyteller. I invite the viewer to return to the innocence of childhood where appreciation of beauty and a sense of wonderment reaffirm the innate positivity of the human spirit.”

Dr Rubinstein is a self-confessed perfectionist and has always had an eye for detail and creativity. “As a kid I liked to make things – model airplanes and cars. Creativity was definitely part of my growing passion for medicine; fixing things and helping people. I used to carry around a first aid kit when I was a kid,” he says.

“Plastic surgery seems to be an extension of that because surgeons can actually make people’s lives better.”

They say choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. When Dr Rubinstein describes his work, it is obvious that he’s found just that. “I genuinely love my work. I love the first consults, meeting people and finding out what they want and communicating with them. I like the second consults, when they come back and ask further questions; it means they’re engaged and this is when you really start to get to know them and find out what’s most appropriate for them.”

“I love surgery. Surgery makes me feel most at home as there are no interruptions, no distractions and I can just immerse myself. Then I like post op follow-ups and reviewing people. Seeing the results, looking after them and caring for them – this is an amazing feeling. I like seeing them down the track as well – I’m now looking after people I treated 20 years ago! It’s unbelievable.”

A home among the gumtrees

To escape the demands of a busy practice, Dr Rubinstein takes time out on his hobby farm, a Claudia-and-Craig-Rubensteinproject that has seen him plant tens of thousands of trees, support wildlife and assist the prevention of bush fires. Did we say he doesn’t do anything by halves? And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“While I love what I do, I find I do need to clear my head, get some space and some time by myself. So I go to my farm, which is over 1,100 acres. It’s bigger than Adelaide and probably has better nightlife and better coffee, too!”

“We planted over 60,000 trees in ten years and we’re still planting. It’s my own small way of making the world a little bit better.”

“I’ve always liked tinkering and I now have a well-equipped shed with lost of tools. Actually, I’ve got tools a lot of mechanics would be jealous of!”

“I’ve got off-road vehicles to go around the farm and on one of them, with a lot of help and assistance, I changed the suspension and I modified it and actually pulled it apart three times.”

IMG_20170321_100950“The farm has taught me a lot of valuable things. I now know how a diesel generator works and how to maintain one. I’ve also got a chainsaw, which I know how to sharpen and use to cut my own wood.”

“I now understand about water purification systems, food storage and power circuits. We’ve got a solar power system, so the entire house is powered by a bank of 15 large solar cells and a bank of several huge batteries, so it’s completely power-autonomous,” he adds.

What’s more, all the water is collected from the roof and into a water tank, as well as two back-up tanks in case of droughts or fires. There is also a sprinkler system around the house, activated by a petrol pump and a back-up.

“I’ve also attended courses for bushfires with the Australian native plants and I found out you can’t just plant any kind of trees,” says Dr Rubinstein.

“At the moment we’re designing wildlife corridors so that Australian marsupials, kangaroos, wombats, wallabies and echidnas have a safe refuge. Whenever we have big trees that fall down, we actually leave them because this is refuge for wildlife. As we’re growing more and more trees and the canopies are becoming thicker, we’re now getting more birds. For the first time ever we are finding a few koalas and lots of wombats. I’ve got a thermal imager and I like driving around at night to spot the little marsupials.”

A practice with a difference

Dr Rubinstein has also built his surgical practice from the ground up. He believes that it’s highly important for his patients to have the best possible support team on their journey. From in-house staff and nurses to surgical assistants and anaesthetists, the experienced and specialised team at Cosmetic Surgery for Women delivers a unique level of care.

“When I first set up my practice about 20 years ago we worked in isolation, which was not efficient. Technology is constantly changing and the world of information is so vast and the actual cost of running a practice is so much that if we could work collaboratively as a team, it would be in everybody’s interest,” explains Dr Rubinstein. “We could teach each other, learn from each other, cover each other and benefit each other.”

“We now have seven specialised surgeons working in our team, including Doug McManamny, Jeff Barnett, Rebecca Whiten, Richard Maxwell, Benjamin Burt and Tom Robbins. We also Claudia-at-work Dr-Rubenstein-under-tractorhave three more surgeons about to join the practice and roughly 35 nurses and support staff.”

“We have three centres. Hawthorn is the main one, plus satellite clinics at Berwick and Williamstown. Williamstown is about to be relocated in a bigger centre at Altona North.”

“Claudia was instrumental in the interior design aspect of the new rooms. Most of the artwork is hers and probably the most impressive thing about the clinic is when people come in and see these amazing pieces of art. They’re just beautiful.”

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“To me, you’re either big or you’re little. If you’re big, you get bigger; if you’re little, you’re going to go under and disappear. What sets our practice apart is that we do it together. If there’s a problem we can cover each other, look after each other, try to educate each other. There’s a lot of collaboration and it works really well,” concludes Dr Rubinstein.

This article is sponsored by ProLending to profile individual plastic surgeons in Australia. ProLending specialises in medical finance.