Meet Dr Craig Layt – Up Close and Personal

Dr Craig Layt Up Close
Dr Craig Layt based in Northern NSW and the Gold Coast

Dr Craig Layt is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon based between the Gold Coast in QLD and Ballina in Northern NSW. With 20 years experience as a plastic surgeon Dr Layt is trained and experienced in just about every plastic surgery procedure and is known for his beautiful results. I had a chat with him about just about everything including why he loves breast surgery, keeping up to speed with the latest techniques and why he and his staff are renowned for looking after their patients both physically and emotionally.

Trish: Hey listeners. Well, I’m here today, and I’m pretty excited because today we’re talking with Dr. Craig Layt. Dr. Craig Layt is a specialist plastic surgeon and he runs The Layt Clinic up in Southport and also based in Ballina.

Tonight, we’re just going to just get a bit of a background about Dr. Layt. Dr Layt’s been practising for, I don’t even know how long, but a long time. Well, I don’t even know how long we’ll ask him now shortly, so we’re going to find out a little bit about Dr. Layt tonight, so welcome, Dr. Layt.

Dr Craig Layt: Oh, hi, Trish. How are you? Hey, why don’t you just call me Craig?

Trish: Okay. I will then, and you can just call me Trish.

Dr Craig Layt: No problems, no problems.

Trish: Awesome, so thank you so much for joining us here tonight.

Dr Craig Layt: Oh, it’s my pleasure, absolute pleasure.

Trish: Awesome, awesome, so tell us, first of all, how long have you been a plastic surgeon?

Dr Craig Layt: I’ve been a plastic surgeon nearly 20 years now. In fact, interestingly, well, I’ve been a doctor for much longer than that obviously. My 30th medical school reunion’s coming up this year. Doesn’t that make you feel old?

Trish: Wow.

Dr Craig Layt: Yeah, so that’s going to be a lot of fun catching up with everybody.

Trish: Yeah, so 30 years?

Dr Craig Layt: Well, I’ve been a plastic surgeon for about 18, nearly 19 years now, yeah.

Trish: Yeah, so 30 years all up being a doctor?

Dr Craig Layt: Yep, that’s correct.

Trish: That’s insane. That’s so long. That’s like a lifetime and a bit.

Dr Craig Layt: Oh, I was feeling old already, Trish.

Trish: Sorry, sorry, sorry, and so tell me, what inspired you to become a plastic surgeon? Was there that defining moment or is it something you kind of just fell into or?

Dr Craig Layt: Well, I don’t know about fell into it. It’s actually quite interesting. At high school, I was sort of good at school and I was either going to be a pilot or a doctor. My father had been a builder, and so I’d always been working with my hands and things, and then so I ended up going to med school. When I was doing that, I always was heading some of the more practical things.

Once I finished medical school, I had a whole heap of great mentors. In the end, one of them was a guy who said I should do surgery. I started doing surgery, and then someone said, “Why don’t you do plastics? You’re really good with your hands,” and it was something that really interested me and I loved the challenge, so I decided to do that, and the rest is history.

Trish: Yeah, wow. What’s really funny, because as a patient of plastic surgery, having met quite a few plastic surgeons, when I first started out on my plastic surgery journey, you’re one of the doctors I came to see. As the years have gone on and I’ve spoken to other patients, got to know things that you do, met patients of yours, interviewed patients of yours, you are without a doubt one of the all around plastic surgeons. You do pretty much nearly all the plastic surgery procedures and do them well, don’t you?

Dr Craig Layt: Oh, that’s nice of you to say. In fact, well, I suppose the thing is, one of the things that drew me to plastic surgery in the first place was the breadth of technique. I trained pretty much completely as a general surgeon first, and so that adds a little bit more of a quiver to the bow sort of thing in that there are things that you can do that if you aren’t in that stuff, you feel a little less comfortable with, so that’s good. As I said, though, I was going to be a pilot. Interestingly, last weekend, I just started to get my pilot’s licence.

Trish: Oh, good on you. Go you. Well done, so tell me, I know that you perform a lot of different procedures and I do also know from many different people that you’re good at the gamut of them, so do you have a favourite, and if you do, what is it and why?

Dr Craig Layt: Well, Trish, do you have a favourite child, because it’s a bit like that, isn’t it? I mean, I don’t really have a favourite. Certainly there are things I like doing more than others, I suppose. As you know, I do an enormous amount of breast surgery and I love that.

It’s fantastic, but one of the things that really drew me to plastic surgery was that breadth of stuff, so on an average week, I will be doing a tummy tuck and a breast reduction on a Monday afternoon and I may be doing an augmentation and a lift the next day or that day followed by face lift, a rhinoplasty, eyelid surgery.

It’s just fantastic, and if you do a lot of volume in all of them, you can stay very skilled in all of them as long as you also keep up, which as you know, I attend meetings all over the place and sort of keep myself up to speed with everything.

Trish: Yeah. I don’t think there’s a meeting that I haven’t seen you at. Well, I like to get into the conferences and just sort of do it as media, and I don’t think there’s one that I haven’t seen you at. Oh, the dermatology one. Sorry, I haven’t seen you at that one.

Dr Craig Layt: Yeah, yeah. Probably … Well, I do do a lot of skin stuff. I do have to work sometimes.

Trish: Yeah, so tell me, I’ve been down to the clinic there in Southport. In fact, I’ve been to the clinic in Ballina as well, which is where I started on my injectables journey. Actually, no, when I moved up here, yeah, the injectables which is fantastic. You’ve got a great dermal practitioner there, and also your nurse there is fantastic, and I can say that from experience, but what support do you and your clinic provide for patients pre and post-surgery? Because what happens a lot, or what I’m finding a lot as well is people are getting … They book in, they have their surgery, and it’s like, “Bye bye,” but I know that you guys offer a whole lot more because number one, I’ve seen the bags in your clinic. What is it that makes you guys a cut above the rest?

Dr Craig Layt: Oh, thanks, Trish. Nice to say it. Look, what we’ve always had an attitude of doing is we’re not about selling anything to anybody or anything like that. It’s all about education, so I’ve got 26 staff and they cover a wide range of skillsets, and many of them have multiple skillsets. That’s what we try to do, so that pre-operatively, we look to provide as much education, emotional support as we can.

It’s also help with all the practical stuff, from the point-of-view of just making sure, giving people advice on where they might want to go for accommodation if they’re from out of town. I just try and arrange it and make it seamless so they’re not stressed. I do everything ahead of time so that when they arrive on the day of surgery, they don’t have to worry about going and picking up drugs or just doing anything. Really just want them to rock in there feeling confident and comfortable.

Afterwards, as you’ve alluded to in the post-op bags is everything they should need. Their appointment’s already pre-booked. My staff contact patients the next day if we’re not seeing them the next day, but often we will be, and then I’ve got a range of staff, be it nurses, laser specialists, therapists of various types, to help with all the post-surgical care, stressing scar management and support.

Importantly, the other thing is, I’m not above all of this. If someone needs to talk to me, they can talk to me, and my number is actually on our answering machine, so if someone has a problem at 2:00 AM on a Sunday morning and they ring the practise, they get the answering machine, they ring me, so it’s me who actually picks the phone up.

Trish: Yeah. It’s really funny because you know how you meet plastic surgeons? If there’s one thing I can say about you, you remind me of a salt of the earth kind of plastic surgeon, if that makes any sense, because it’s true. I know for a fact that you are available to your patients, and your patients that I’ve spoken to, it’s never, “Oh, Dr. Layt.” It’s always like, “Oh, Craig.” It’s like you’re they’re mate almost. I’ve done interviews with a few of your patients and they’re like, “Oh yeah, blah blah blah, Craig,” and it’s just like you’re the guy that lives across the road. The patients that choose you actually really resonate with you, hey, and you with them as well, actually.

Dr Craig Layt: But I think that’s important. There are patients who my style won’t suit, and that’s okay, and there’s patients who won’t like me I’m sure, and there’s patients who really like me, but I am who I am, just like you’re who you are. I’m a [inaudible 00:08:32] Manly boy who went to a public high school down by the Bayside, so that’s who I am. My dad’s a builder. I was the first guy in our family ever to go to university, so that’s who I am.

Trish: Yeah, real working class, hey? That was my next question. I was going to say, where did you grow up? So Manly in-

Dr Craig Layt: In Brisbane. No, in Brisbane.

Trish: Oh, Brisbane.

Dr Craig Layt: Manly, yeah. In fact, I used to go down and watch Wally Lewis play around the corner.

Trish: Okay, so where did you study?

Dr Craig Layt: I went to University of Queensland, and as I said, I’ve got my 30 year medical school reunion coming up, and then I did general surgery throughout Queensland, and then plastic surgery, I did half of it in Brisbane and did the other half in Melbourne with some of the guys down there, Ian Taylor and Wayne Morrison and those guys and stayed down there for a little bit before coming back, and then had a great mentor here on the Gold Coast, Paul Downie, who’s still a very good friend of mine and is one of the great, great breast surgeons around the place.

Trish: Okay, so you’re a little bit like our family in the sense that my daughter was the first … I mean, I went to uni, didn’t finish, but my daughter was the first one in our family to go to university, so I can imagine your parents must have been so freaking proud of you. Not only did you go to uni, you became a doctor, but you became a plastic surgeon, so kudos to you, hey.

Dr Craig Layt: Oh. Well, I hope they’re pretty proud, but mom’s not around anymore. She died a few years ago, but dad’s around and I obviously see him all the time and we have a good time. He’s a good guy. Actually, Trish, it doesn’t surprise me. I’ll now do the interview now. How did you manage to drop out of university?

Trish: Oh. What actually happened, being of an Italian background, all we were taught from years ago, my job was to grow up, get married, and live happily ever after, and so I wasn’t allowed to go to university because I had to get a job, so I didn’t go to uni then, but I went when I was about 39.

I started studying naturopathy down at Southern Cross Uni in Lismore, and then I met the man of my dreams. He’s an engineer and he was doing his one year [inaudible 00:10:48], and then I thought, “Man,” because I was a single mom, I thought, “Man, I can’t have this guy support me and my family,” so I dropped out, but I got everything I needed to know out of it in the couple years I was in it, so I dropped out halfway through, so I had a big fat HECS bill and no degree. There you go. Anyway, I had some good public servant jobs, but anyway, so let me get back to you. Tell me, what’s been your biggest career milestone to date?

Dr Craig Layt: Look, apart from … We’ve got a great practise. I’m very proud of that. I’m proud of our staff. By we, I mean my wife has been obviously an integral part of that. I know you…

Trish: Oh my god, I love your wife. Your wife just rocks. She’s awesome.

Dr Craig Layt: I love her a bit, too, so that’s good. No, but probably from a career perspective, just being president of ASAPS was fantastic, Australia Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. It was pretty humbling to be respected enough by your colleagues for them to ask you to represent them. That was pretty good, and it was great. It was very interesting to be part of trying to grow the education for our colleagues, and I think I did my part to do that, so that’s good.

Trish: That’s kind of like, probably from when you were there, maybe just a little bit before, it’s kind of become that, hey, where it’s all about educating not just each other, but the public and just increasing public awareness and stuff like that. It’s really happening, isn’t it, at the moment, don’t you reckon?

Dr Craig Layt: Oh, it’s been incredible. You stand on the shoulders of giants, and certainly the presidents before myself set the basement for everything and we’ve just built on it and built on it and built on it. Back in the day, we had one meeting a year that was just very small and intimate, and I remember the first meeting.

You’ve been at the NSS, which myself and sort of got going back in the day, and it’s now got 1500 plus participants. It’s one of the best meeting in Asia, so I mean, very proud of that stuff because what that does is it educates my direct colleagues, but also our nursing staff and others who are doing things with patients. The great thing about that is it’s all about patient safety. It just means patients get better results and that’s what it’s all about.

Trish: I totally agree, and you know what? With those meetings, I’m so lucky to be able to attend them, but I can see that the people that go to those meetings, they are the ones that actually are interested in learning the latest techniques, learning about what’s going on, learning more about patient safety and just keeping up to date. Once again, you kind of see the same faces there, as well, so it makes you really aware of who’s really in it for the right reasons, if that makes any sense.

Dr Craig Layt: Oh, look, the number one thing I would say to patients is if they’re choosing their surgeon or anyone to treat them is that forget about who’s got the prettiest webpage, which hopefully my next one will be, or who’s got the biggest Instagram account or whatever. Actually, work out who goes to the meetings. Have a look and find out who’s actually at the meetings, who’s speaking at the meetings, who’s keeping themselves engaged, because that’s where you get great results is if you know what’s going on.

Trish: That’s so true. That’s so true, and so I’m going to ask you one other thing. I know that being the president of ASAPS was your biggest career milestone to date, but do you have a more interesting experience from your plastic surgery career that you can share with us either about a patient or a procedure or something that was just sort like, “Wow, hey”?

Dr Craig Layt: Well, as you know, well, they’re too numerous to mention. The great thing is that I get as much from the patients as … They give me as much as I give them, and I don’t mean financially. I mean literally, the joy when someone walks in and is happy with you and they say you’ve changed their life or whatever’s happened, that’s great. There’s many of them I can’t sort of talk about obviously for confidentiality and things like that. I’ve done lots of really complex reconstructions, great life-changing aesthetic cases.

There was one case I can talk about, which I still tell my residents about as being one of those really great moments in my life. I was on an Interplast trip, actually, in the Solomons. There was a young 16-year-old girl who had this enormous big vascular malformation, just this great big abnormal collection of blood vessels on her lip, and it was sort of deforming the whole side of her face. She was only 16, but as you know in those sort of countries often girls marry very early, and she was outcast from the village and she wasn’t really going to be marrying material.

It was a bit risky to think about excising it in such an environment where you didn’t have any investigations or anything, but we took it on, and it was actually a pretty simple operation in the end. Wasn’t very hard at all, but got a nice result. I subsequently heard not that long later, she was back in the village. She was married and was pregnant, and I thought that was a real life-changing event for her, and I still think about what she’s up to these days. I obviously won’t be able to find out.

Trish: Oh, that’s so nice. I can totally relate to that because although coming from an Italian background, can you imagine 30, 40 years ago, it was pretty similar like that in our place, although I was born here, but anyway, I can totally relate to what you mean because if you’re a young girl and you didn’t get married or you were too ugly to get married or whatever, it was actually a big problem, so I know what you mean. I can feel how that would have been life-changing for her, hey.

Dr Craig Layt: Yeah, yeah. We did lots of cleft lips and palates and things on that trip, but that one really stood out for me just for that reason.

Trish: Yeah, and I suppose for listeners that don’t know what Interplast is, it’s a charity, isn’t it? It’s a charity where volunteer plastic surgeons and nurses and doctors go overseas, third world countries, and actually perform life-changing reconstructive surgery for people that can’t afford it, isn’t it?

Dr Craig Layt: Yeah, basically. It was set up many years ago and it’s the charity that ASAPS supports. If anyone’s interested in supporting that, they certainly should because it’s a great charity. More details, you could get obviously from ASAPS or from Interplast.

That’s exactly what happens is that plastic surgeons, nurses, anaesthetists give up their time, go all throughout Micronesia and various areas where there are no plastic surgery services and in many of these places, there’s quite high rates of things like cleft lip and palate. If they’re not repaired appropriately and early enough, these young people will never lead normal lives, so it’s really life-changing stuff.

Trish: Yeah, and it’s so honourable, the people that do it, because it’s-

Dr Craig Layt: Once again, Trish, it’s fun and it’s challenging, and these people, just through you being able to operate on them give you back as much as you give them. It’s great.

Trish: Yep, yep. That’s so awesome. That’s so good to hear, and I’ve got to say, one of the things I really love about you, Craig, is the fact that you’re always freaking happy. You’re always smiling. You love what you do and it’s really obvious and it shines through.

Dr Craig Layt: Oh, you need to talk to my kids. I’m not always happy.

Trish: Oh, and you’re normal, too. Yay. No, well, that’s awesome. Oh, well, look, thanks so much for your time tonight. That’s been really nice and insightful to get that little bit of up close and personal with Dr. Craig Layt from The Layt Clinic.

Dr Craig Layt: Fantastic, Trish. Thanks a lot.

Trish: You’re awesome.

Dr Craig Layt: Thanks.

Trish: Listeners, if you’re wanting to have a plastic surgery procedure and you’re either Southport, Brisbane, Northern Rivers or whatever, I can’t recommend Dr. Craig Layt highly enough. I actually had a consult with him years ago. Didn’t go with him and actually went with another surgeon, and I kick myself in the butt every time because I’ve seen some amazing results of what I should’ve had, which I don’t have now, but that’s okay because that’s got me where I am now, so yeah, definitely don’t look past Dr. Layt. Yeah, so he’s at Southport and Ballina, so thanks so much for joining us tonight, Craig.

Dr Craig Layt: Pleasure. All the best.

Trish: Thanks heaps. Bye.

Dr Craig Layt: See you. Bye.