Dr. Mark Zukowski is an internationally recognized cosmetic surgeon living in Chicago. His primary focus as a board-certified plastic surgeon is male to female transition surgery for members of the transgender community. Dr. Zukowski performs the face, breast, and body feminization surgeries that allow his patients to present themselves as they see themselves inside..
In a time when identity is so important, Dr. Mark Zukowski has been helping people fully realize the dream of being their true self. Besides his surgical procedures, he has also created relationships with local hair transplant and large volume electrolysis specialists so his patients can have a complete transition experience. He is sought after by the community he helps because he is thorough, compassionate, and builds beauty.
Working with the international gender community for 23 years, he holds a B.S. degree in Biochemistry from Union College in Schenectady, New York, and a medical degree from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.
In his free time, Dr. Zukowski enjoys taking vacations with his family. As an only child, he especially enjoys visiting with his parents back home in central New York, where he grew up.
Why did you choose to become a doctor?
Being a physician is something that has always interested me, especially with some of the members on my mother’s side of the family being doctors in different specialties. I wasn’t sure what specialty I wanted to go into when I first started medical school. When I went to Northwestern Medical School, I found that I was well-suited for surgery and that is where my primary interest was.
I took a particular interest in plastic reconstructive surgery and I was assigned the head of plastic surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital as a mentor during my freshman year of medical school. This allowed me to “shadow” the chief of plastic surgery at one of the top hospitals in the United States. As the transgender community began to become more accepted, I realized that I could make a big difference for them with my skills. I became well-known for the cosmetic procedures that help them really show who they are.
What do you specialize in?
I am a board certified plastic surgeon. My practice is exclusively cosmetic surgery of the face, breast, and body. Up to 85% of my clientele are male to female transgender patients. While I don’t provide the genitalia reconstruction, I am recognized worldwide as a top surgeon for the services we offer.
I am an expert in 21st century minimal scar endoscopic techniques. These techniques leave smaller scars, do not cut nerves, and allow you to heal faster. I help people realize their dreams of having a more feminine look. We have a network of providers that we work with that assist with removing large volume face and body hair and doing hair micrografts to create a more feminine hairline for our patients.
We improve upon the outward cosmetic needs for our patients so they can achieve the look that they really want to present as their true selves. More often than not, my patients look better than their cis genetic sisters.
What is your daily routine?
I operate three days per week and see patients on two days. In addition to seeing patients in person, I make telephone calls all over the world for out of town consults and follow up. That leaves one day to catch up. On days that I perform surgery, the schedule is pretty rigid. We have set times, of course, for arrivals and the procedures. The days that I see patients, those appointments are for consultations or post operative follow up appointments. My military background helps with juggling such a busy schedule.
What do you love about your job?
I absolutely love what I do for a living. I can make a big difference for my patients. I build beauty for my clients, helping them look as good on the outside as they feel on the inside. The concept of identity is extremely important, you want the world to see you as you see yourself.
I am able to give that to my patients and it is very gratifying work. It is a huge difference in their life to be able to present their true self. I really appreciate that my patients put their faith in me and that I am able to make that difference for them. I don’t know any other specialty that would make me feel as proud as I do. My patients see themselves one way, but the world sees them another. My work brings those contradicting visions together. It not only helps them outwardly, but on the inside as well. It’s so rewarding for me.
What do you do in order to mentally separate yourself from your job?
If you enjoy what you do, you don’t have to unwind too much from it. I enjoy performing surgery and I enjoy meeting with patients before and after the procedure. I really don’t have to mentally separate from work too much because there isn’t anything about what I do that I don’t enjoy doing.
I do make time for family vacations when we need one. Right now, I am in Upstate New York taking some time off. The only thing I miss living in Chicago is the great outdoors.
What would you consider to be the greatest accomplishment in your career?
I consider every successful procedure a great accomplishment. Changing a person’s life, allowing them to get a new job or bring them back from the depths of depression or suicide is great happiness for me. When a patient comes to me, they have a picture in their mind about how they want the world to see them. I am able to bring that picture into reality. It is a very rewarding career because it means so much to my patients. Also, I just recently turned 60 and I’m still going.
I think that is a great accomplishment in and of itself. I don’t expect to slow down anytime soon. I want to be able to help as many people as I can reach their goals before I think about retirement. Face, breast and body feminizing is one of the most technical, challenging and exacting sequence of procedures that any plastic surgeon can perform. I am helping patients attain the beauty that they see in themselves.
It’s an honor to be a part of their transition and I am proud that my skills help as much as they do. Nobody gets close to the results we achieve. As my patients often say “see the rest and come to Dr. Z as the best.”
How do you unwind after a particularly stressful day?
Stress is a relative thing. I have challenging days, but that is what I signed up for. In my first year of my surgery internship, I worked on average 148 hours a week, got 2 weeks off and grossed $20,000.00. Working 100 hours a week is a vacation! At the end of the work day, I just take a little time to review everything, check on my patients that need me, and go for a swim at a gym down the street from my office. Then, I just go home and spend time with my family.