An interview with Dr. Fares Samra and his father; Dr. Said Samra.
Samra Plastic Surgery. Left to right: Dr. Salem Samra, Dr. Fares Samra, Dr. Said Samra, Dr. Munjal P Patel, Dr. Asaad Samra.
HOLMDEL, NJ: Chances are that if you live in or around the Holmdel community, you know one or more of the Samra's. The father and mother and 3 of their 4 sons, are local physicians. The family is deeply rooted locally, giving back to the community they love, in many ways.
The father, Dr. Said Samra founded Samra Plastic Surgery nearly 40 years ago. He is the President of the Medical Staff at Hackensack Meridian Health Bayshore Medical Center.
Bayshore Medical Center, Chief Hospital Executive, Frank Citara commented to TAPinto, “Our commitment to providing our community with the best healthcare possible, stands secure on a strong foundation, that leaders like Dr. Said Samra have built for decades. Dr. Samra and his sons are an integral part of our team here. The Samra physicians are always leading the way with the most advanced and best healthcare opportunities for our patients.”
Dr. Said’s reputation of being an excellent doctor is matched by his warm and caring personality. Time and time again, patient testimonials speak to the wonderful bedside manner of Dr. Said Samra and his team. “When you are in the care of Samra physicians, you know you are in the best care possible. You know they care for you like family.” Samra Plastic Surgery patient, Stephanie W. commented to TAPinto.
Mom, Dr. Raja Barakat is a pediatrician and founder of Samra Pediatrics.
Both practices are based in Holmdel, with branch offices in Old Bridge. Dr. Said Samra and his wife Dr. Raja Barakat, built their family life in Holmdel too, where they raised their four sons. Three are also now physicians, working with their father as part of the Samra Plastic Surgery team. The brother that did not choose medicine has a successful career in banking. The tight-knit family shares as much time together as possible, and the Samra family is an integral part of the fabric of Holmdel.
Dr. Fares is the youngest of Samra's four sons, the most recent to join the practice. Once he joined Samra Plastic Surgery last year, they expanded beyond Holmdel and Old Bridge, and now also have offices in Freehold and Summit. Dr. Fares Samra's two brothers, Dr. Asaad Samra and Dr. Salem Samra are also plastic surgeons in the practice. Dr. Salem specializes in hand surgery, the focus of his fellowship.
Samra Plastic Surgery specializes in cosmetic, reconstructive, and hand surgery. In addition, Samra Plastic Surgery has two medical spas, Jeunesse Medical Spa in Holmdel and Old Bridge, NJ.
Dr. Fares Samra’s expertise in microsurgery, brings highly advanced medical options to the local community. Dr. Asaad Samra is the Member at Large for the Medical Executive Committee at Bayshore Medical Center.
After Dr. Fares Samra joined the Samra practice more than a year ago, he was then board-certified in December 2020. Currently, Samra Plastic Surgery has 5 board-certified plastic surgeons (the 5th, is Dr. Munjal P Patel who, although not related, fits in like family according to the Samra's). Dr. Fares brings a specialty to the practice that only one other surgeon in NJ practices. Find out about that and more in the interview below.
TAPinto had the opportunity to interview Dr. Fares Samra, and his father Dr. Said Samra (to differentiate the doctors in the interview, they are titled Dr. Fares and Dr. Said).
JW: Dr. Said, what brought you and your wife to Holmdel?
Dr. Said: Thirty-nine years ago, I was at the end of my training in plastic surgery at Saint Barnabus in Livingston. It was a spring day, my wife and I only had our first two children then, and they were little. We shared a great day at the shore, and we were taking route 36 through Seabright, and making our way home to South Orange. My wife needed to stop to take care of the babies, and we parked in what was then the Pathmark parking lot on 35. As we were pulling out I saw a hospital sign, and so I drove around and followed it. It was a beautiful short drive, everything was in spring bloom and when we came upon the hospital, we saw Bayshore Medical Center, set on its small elevation. The sun was shining on the hospital, and it looked so beautiful. I said to my wife, “This is the town I want us to live in. This is where I want to be and there’s no better place for us.” I wasn't even sure what town I was in. I found out it was Holmdel, went home and started making calls and found out I had a couple friends who lived in Holmdel. So, back in November of 1982, we bought our home in Holmdel. All of our four boys were raised in Holmdel, and they all love the town too. Holmdel means a lot to my wife, and to me, and our children.
JW: Dr. Said, I understand you are the President of Medical Staff at Hackensack Meridian Health Bayshore Medical Center.
Dr. Said: When I was asked to fill that role, I thought to myself, how much more of an honor can I get than to make the hospital even better. Bayshore is Holmdel’s hospital, and it became very clear to me 39 years ago, that if I wanted to live in Holmdel, the hospital must be up to the best possible standards that I would want the community to experience, including my own family. Bayshore Medical Center has treated my parents, my entire family including me… It behooves me to do whatever I can do in my capacity to make sure that it is the best hospital possible. We have an outstanding team at Bayshore, and it’s an honor to be part of the success.
JW: In January 2021, it was announced that Bayshore Medical Center was named a top general hospital and received an “A” safety rating by the prestigious Leapfrog Group.
Dr. Said. Yes, we are so happy to have received he award. What many do not know about Bayshore is that we have a leading cardiology department, with the best timing in the country from ER to cardiocath (cardiac catheterization).
Dr. Fares: I have a story to tell you about Bayshore and my dad… When I was 8 years old I was at sports practice in Holmdel, and ran across the street and I was hit by a pick-up truck…near Chestnut Ridge Road. I was knocked unconscious. Of course an ambulance was called, and I was brought to Bayshore. When I woke up my dad was sewing my face back up in the ER. I had a broken arm, a lacerated spleen…Bayshore has always been there for us and with our large family, we have been there a lot. The Samra family is very much intertwined with Bayshore. However, as much as I love Bayshore, I would be remiss if I did not mention how much I also really love Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank. Riverview is where I do the majority of my work. The breast cancer team at Riverview is phenomenal, and I‘m saying that from the perspective of working at premier hospitals previously, in my training. I have had patients with Free Flap surgery at Riverview recover quicker than anywhere I’ve worked. My wife also gave birth to our daughter there in December, and my wife and daughter had the best care at Riverview.
JW: Congratulations Dr. Fares on the birth of your daughter! Dr. Said, you must be so proud of the fact that you have built such a successful medical practice and now fast-forward decades later and 3 of your sons have joined you!
Dr. Said: I will tell you and honest to God, it is the truth, it’s not me, it’s the ladies. The truth is that I owe it to my wife and to my daughter in-laws. The women in the family. My wife guided my sons to do the right thing, while I was running around working, from the office to the emergency room, to the hospital. I owe everything to my wife.
Dr. Fares: My dad is correct about my mom but to be fair he does deserve half the credit. Because of our dad’s commitment to the community, so many people love him. We would walk the halls of Costco growing up, and you could hear person after person, “Hello Dr. Samra! Hi Dr. Samra…” It is because of how our dad takes care of people, that he is very loved. He always showed us the positive impact you can have on your community and how to be a good member of society, and to take care of one another. Those are the meaningful and important messages our parents instilled in us. The best compliment any of the hospital staff can give me is to say that I remind them of my dad. That is the greatest compliment I can receive. That's how I feel.
JW: It’s wonderful to see a family work so well together.
Dr. Said: It is the blessing of my life to work with my sons. I can’t tell you what it means to me when I run into someone, and they tell me how wonderful my son has treated them. There is not a better way imaginable for me to work. Our family is now 22 all together, and we enjoy sharing time together very much. One of our best times all together was spring of 2019, we all went to Orlando Florida together and had the best week. Since then our youngest granddaughter was born.
The Samra family, spring of 2019, Orlando Florida.
JW: Dr. Fares, tell me about your education and training.
Dr. Fares: I graduated summa cum laude with an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania. I attended medical school at New York University School of Medicine, and returned to the University of Pennsylvania for my plastic surgery residency training program. I worked at several prominent institutions including the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which is home to the highest volume microsurgical Free Flap breast reconstruction center in the US, and the top-ranked children’s hospital in the country, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). So, I was trained by leaders of the medical community in reconstructive microsurgery, pediatric plastic surgery, and aesthetic surgery.
I continued my education with fellowship training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which is the premier reconstructive microsurgery fellowship program in the nation. I was able to perform over 200 Free Flaps, mastering the latest techniques in breast reconstruction, head and neck reconstruction, and lymphedema surgery. So, what that means is that we are able to perform a procedure very few, if any, surgeons in the area can do.
JW: Dr. Fares what is Free Flap surgery?
Dr. Fares Samra: Free Flap is microsurgery. It is when you take tissue from one part of the body and move it to another part of the body, after completely disconnecting it. It's like a kidney transplant, but it's all within the same person. So, for example, if a woman has breast cancer and her breast is removed from a mastectomy, we can reconstruct that breast using dissected skin and fat from her belly. We completely disconnect it, and the blood vessels that keep it alive. We remove the tissue from the body, shape a breast out of the tissue and then sew the blood vessels in the chest area and reconnect the vessels, reestablishing blood flow. With Free Flap there are many benefits, less chance of infection, it’s more natural and long lasting. There’s a mantra in plastic surgery attributed to Dr. Harold Gillies, known as the father of plastic surgery. Gillies in the early 1900's said with regard to plastic surgery, "Replace like with like." With Free Flap, we are replacing skin and fat with skin and fat.
JW: You are described as one of only two surgeons in the state of NJ, that takes Free Flap surgery a step further, can you explain what that step is?
Dr. Fares Samra: It's a new surgical technique called Resensation. It is when we take nerves connected to the tissues we are extracting from the abdomen and reconnect them to the breast area, therefore recreating sensation in the breasts.
JW: Between the Free Flap and the Resensation, your practice is providing options for women to have the most natural reconstruction experience possible.
Dr. Fares: Yes, that’s true.
JW: Can you give me an example of how Samra Plastic Surgery collaborates with orthopedists and spine surgeons?
Dr. Fares: We work closely with spine surgeons, and orthopedists in general, to help manage high risk or complicated patients with spine or joint surgery. For example, recently there was a patient who had prior spine surgery. The patient was in for a revision, which presents an increased risk for complication, there’s scar tissue... The spine surgeon arranged for us to meet with the patient prior to the revision. In this case after the spine surgeon completed the revision, I continued the surgery by rotating the adjacent muscle over the spine and over the hardware that the spine surgeon had placed there. This helps to maximize the blood flow and therefore maximize the healing capacity, by minimizing complication capacity as much as possible. In another recent case I removed muscle from a patient’s calf to cover his knee after a complicated knee reconstructive surgery. This type of surgery gives patients optimal healing opportunity, maximizing the patient’s ability to heal.
JW: Can you tell me about accepting insurance, many plastic surgeons do not accept insurance. I understand your practice is in the network with Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Medicare.
Dr. Fares: It’s important to note first of all that it is a Federal Law that anyone that has had breast cancer and has had a mastectomy must be covered by their insurance company for any reconstructive surgery, including balancing of the other breast that was not removed, should that also be needed. Also, it’s important to note that if a woman has had prior reconstructive surgery with an implant and is unhappy with the results, they are still a candidate for the microsurgery/Free Flap, which can be covered by insurance, to satisfy their results. They are still a candidate even years later. Yes, we are in the network with BCBS and Medicare.
JW: Tell me about your surgery center.
Dr. Said: Many of our patients preferred having their procedures in the privacy of our surgery center and for us we are all about what the patient wants. During the pandemic, the desire for our COVID-19 free surgery center grew immensely. Patients did not want to enter a hospital for a surgical procedure during the pandemic and of late the need for the surgery center has been exploding. The facility is state licensed, Medicare certified facility and everything is state-of-the-art. Regardless of their diagnosis, every patient has to be COVID-19 tested and no one is permitted to enter the facility that is COVID-19 positive.
JW: Explain Samra Plastic Surgery’s collaboration with dermatologists with regard to Mohs wound closures.
Dr. Said: Plastic surgeons are experts in skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. and Mohs surgery (named after Dr. Mohs who developed it), for excision of a skin cancer inevitably results in an open wound. In closing this wound or filling in this defect, special reconstructive procedures performed by plastic surgeons are often needed to optimize healing and restoring proper form and function to the area. At Samra Plastic Surgery, our surgeons specialize in this form of reconstruction. Many wounds that are left to heal on their own or if stitched closed with excessive tension can lead to poor healing and scarring. This can even heal disfiguring and affect function. The use of special plastic surgical techniques can facilitate optimal healing. So, we work collaboratively with dermatologists to ensure their patients receive the optimal results.
JW: Tell me how you adjusted for the pandemic.
Dr. Said: As soon as the pandemic hit all elective surgery was stopped. However we started being inundated with requests from the community to provide medical care for patients that would normally go into the ER with a wound for example. They did not want to go to the ER so they would request treatment in our offices… We already sterilized everything and with the pandemic we went above and beyond all of the sterilization guidelines.
JW: Thank you so much Dr. Said Samra and Dr. Fares. I certainly learned a lot today to share with my readers. Thank you for all the medical expertise that you bring to our community.
More information about Dr. Fares Samra: Dr. Fares Samra is passionate about sharing his medical expertise and collaborating with colleagues to help those in need. He has participated in several surgical missions including traveling to the Middle East and Central America to perform relief work and to Amman, Jordan with LEAP Global Missions and the Syrian American Medical Society to provide care for refugees. Additionally, he was awarded the Regan Fellowship from Operation Smile and traveled to Managua, Nicaragua in 2019, to provide care for children with cleft lip and palate.
Dr. Fares Samra offers the latest in reconstructive breast surgery including DIEP flap breast reconstruction, lower extremity/thigh-based tissue transfer, advanced breast implant techniques, and fat grafting. He also offers reconstructive procedures for trauma and cancer-related defects of the body as well as aesthetic surgery of the face, breast, and body including facelifts, rhinoplasty, breast lift and, augmentation, tummy tuck, and a variety of body contouring procedures.
Dr. Fares Samra is affiliated with Hackensack Meridian Health hospitals including Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, Raritan Bay Medical Centers in Perth Amboy and Old Bridge, and JFK Medical Center in Edison. He will also be on staff at CentraState Healthcare in Freehold, Capital Health Medical Center in Hopewell, and Atlantic Health's Overlook Medical Center in Summit.
A recent patient testimonial about Dr. Said Samra: "After having 4 kids and losing some weight recently, I decided to visit Dr. Said Samra to get his opinion on ways to improve my loose stomach skin and breasts that lost a lot of volume. From the moment I walked in, I was greeted by friendly front office staff. Dr. Samra went over all options and gave his recommendations for what would give me optimal results. I am a week and a half post-op from a breast lift with augmentation, a mini tummy tuck, and liposuction of my stubborn love handles. To say I am thrilled with my results is an understatement!! Dr. Samra is so sweet and kind and puts you at ease and is truly skilled at what he does. His medical assistants Sam T. and Sam G. are very knowledgeable and take amazing care of their patients. Danielle, the surgical coordinator, handled everything for me and is a pleasure to work with. I would highly recommend Dr. Samra." -Susan F
Samra Plastic Surgery has been a staple in the Monmouth and Middlesex County communities for 40 years. Specializing in cosmetic, reconstructive and hand surgeries, Samra Plastic Surgery already has four board-certified plastic surgeons, two convenient locations in Holmdel and Old Bridge, NJ along with an accredited, private surgery center, The Ambulatory Surgery Center at Old Bridge. In addition, Samra Plastic Surgery has two medical spas, Jeunesse Medical Spa in Holmdel and Old Bridge, NJ. For more information visit Samra Plastic Surgery Website here.