Dr Dev Patel: On Swapping His Sword For A Syringe!


Dr Dev Patel has a fascinating background. His career so far has been one exciting chapter after another; a retired Surgeon Lieutenant Commander from the Royal Navy, he has recently launched his own clinical skincare brand, CellDerma. Now, an internationally recognised Cosmetic Physician, he spoke to me from his beachside home in Southsea, England (UK): “I never predicted each turn in my career. I do believe there are many doors available to us throughout life. I open as many as I can – proactively – and in turn, further doors present themselves. On reflection, there are many subtle connections between these opportunities and they have all taught me valuable lessons.”

So why the Navy? “I was raised in Portsmouth, home of the Royal Navy. I never considered being a doctor in the RN until – as a Navy cadet – I was given the opportunity to speak to a Royal Navy careers liaison officer. Suddenly the image of being a doctor in uniform was – as corny as it sounds – a fantasy that just had to be realised.” Six hard years at the world famous Guy’s & St.Thomas’ Hospitals Medical School (then UMDS), earned him Bachelor degrees in Genetics, Medicine and Surgery. During his first year as a junior doctor he applied for the Royal Navy and embarked on his military career the following year. Dr Patel excitedly spoke of how many stories he has from his Navy days. “I can’t begin to describe all the unique experiences I had during my time in the Forces. One of my longest highlights was serving as a member of the S.P.A.G. (Subsunk Parachute Assistance Group) – an elite NATO-wide rescue team that is on-call 24/7 to attend to any submarine incidents, pretty much anywhere in the world. I volunteered for this as I desperately wanted to earn my ‘military wings’. In addition, we had to train for low-level descents into water (for obvious reasons). This was the ultimate adrenaline activity!” He continued: “I always wanted to embrace everything the military had to offer. I recall volunteering to be Guard Commander for the Trafalgar 200 celebrations in Gibraltar. I was denied…more than once. I was told that a medic had never fulfilled such a role. I was told “doctors don’t know how to march!” I persevered. I got it and proved them all wrong. In fact, after the ceremony, one of the Gibraltar Regiment Sergeants who had been marching on my command, told me I was out of step as we marched off from the parade. Now I had practiced and practiced, often outdoors, late at night, so no-one could see me with sword in hand. I knew I was in time. Just as I began to doubt myself, a Royal Marines Band Captain piped up in the background and calmly said to me “You were in time; they [the Regiment’s soldiers] were not.” I asked him how he knew and he replied, “because over 40 Royal Marines were marching right behind you and we are never out of step.” Video footage later sealed my case!”

Dr Patel saw a number of foreign operational deployments for up to 7 months at a time, including counter-terrorism operations in the Middle-East. On retiring from military service, he went on to work as a NHS GP, also practising medical and aesthetic dermatology one day each week. A few years on, fuelled by ever-growing NHS bureaucracy and a desire for a healthier work-life balance, Dr Patel made the leap into starting his own skin clinic. Perfect Skin Solutions opened in 2014 with just one employee. Today, with more than 6 industry awards hanging on the walls, Dr Patel has a team of over 13 hand-picked staff. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, his dream team (as he calls it) continues to grow. 

Dr Patel’s growing frustration at the lack of regulation in his industry, not only with code of practice but also in the training sector, led him to open Perfect Skin Academy in 2020. “We have a purpose-built facility with a lecture room and 4 clinical rooms. We also have a photography and video suite from where we can relay treatments – live – to the lecture room or an online platform,” he says proudly. 

Even the above ventures, did not hinder Dr Patel from realising the fruits of his labour with the development of a new clinical skincare line, CellDerma. Already a hit with his own patients, this is generating a lot of interest with his industry colleagues and beauty bloggers alike. Watch this space for how this interesting chapter unfolds! 

Speaking to Dr Dev Patel, his positive energy is as obvious as is his “yes” approach to life. Nothing seems beyond this doctor and it is clear how much he cares….about everything he does, the people around him and his patients. 

“I consciously express gratitude for all that I have in life, on a daily basis and my motto is actually Strive to better every day. This applies to my mindset, behaviour, lifestyle, clinic etc etc.” Dr Patel ends with a phrase he recalls from memory, from ‘Outliers – the Story of Success’, written by one of his favourite authors, Malcolm Gladwell. “If you work hard enough and assert yourself and use your mind and imagination, you can shape the world to your desires.”

Follow on IG @drdevpatel1 and FB @Dr Dev Patel and learn more about his clinic at www.perfectskinsolutions.co.uk

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