By Dr. David Alessi, MD
I am fortunate enough to have a career that gives me the opportunity to help people truly look and feel their best, but I knew that I wanted to have a larger impact with my work – a ripple effect. With this in mind, my wife Deborah and I created our own non-profit organization, Face Forward, in 2007. We realized that, while we cannot help every victim, we could help those victims whose physical wounds are still dictating the way they show up in their own lives day to day. There was no other facility or organization offering that type of holistic care specifically to victims of violent crimes, so we created it ourselves. While we originally began with domestic violence alone, we expanded to human trafficking and other violent acts when we saw the opportunity to reach even more people. Now, the mission behind Face Forward is to provide pro-bono reconstructive surgery and emotional support to victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and other cruel acts of crime.
Having helped many women, children and men through Face Forward, it is next to impossible to not be affected by the cases that come through my office. The stories are heartbreaking – from bullet wounds to the head and face, to acid burns, to brutal stabbings – and their pain is almost palpable. However, I am always humbled by their sense of personal strength. From the moment the person first sets foot in my office, all the way to their final visit, I watch them grow and shift, and yet their strength remains unwavering. Patients give me the opportunity to empower them as they continue on with their lives. One patient in particular told me that all she wanted was to look in the mirror and see herself – the person she knew before the abuse – staring back again, and she knew that treating the outer wounds would only help her feel some semblance of self-confidence again. The change is evident to me, and most importantly, to them. They can recognize the transformation in themselves once the physical reminder of the abuse is gone, and the emotional recovery can begin. I have watched former patients go on to become motivational speakers, founders of their own non-profits and advocates in the fight against domestic violence, as well. While I may be treating the external, I see the internal growth happening almost immediately, and that is the best part about this work.
As I look to the future with Face Forward, opening up my services to the United Arab Emirates seems like a natural extension of our plans to keep expanding our services globally. Being local to the area makes it easier for me to assess the wounds myself and determine where to go from there, rather than having patient fly in to see me in the states. Working out of offices in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, I hope to continue watching Face Forward develop and grow, and help even more survivors in their journey toward healing.
About Dr. Alessi
Licensed in the US and the UAE, the doctor to the stars is known for pioneering less invasive cosmetic procedures such as, the single incision eyelid and eyebrow lift and the FAB Facelift, generating minimized recovery time and improved results. As a double-board certified plastic surgeon and ENT specialist, Dr. Alessi genuinely understands the interworking of the head and neck. In addition to being a facial expert, Dr. Alessi is also a philanthropist, dedicating his time and skills to helping physically abused women around the globe by providing all pro-bono reconstructive surgery for the patients of his charity, Face Forward. He has given countless patients a new start, from Hollywood starlets, to victims of acid burns, gunshot wounds and severe physical abuse. Dr. Alessi is the founder and medical director of Alessi Institute located in Beverly Hills, California and also practices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Dr. Alessi has been featured on Larry King Live, CBS The Doctors, The Montel Williams Show, CBS News, ABC’s 20/20 and Eyewitness News and in publications including Elle, Los Angeles Times, Men’s Fitness Magazine, Beverly Hills Times, and Glamour among others.