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Living a legacy

Plastic surgeon returns to Brunswick County beaches to follow in father’s footsteps


Growing up in Holden Beach, North Carolina, Dr. Phillip Khan may have been an only child, but it didn’t often feel that way. As the son of the local general surgeon, Phillip Khan thought of the whole town as family.

His dad, Dr. Mushtaq Khan, was one of the first doctors to practice at Brunswick Community Hospital, now Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center, when it opened in the late 1970s. He practiced as a surgeon and general practitioner in Brunswick County for more than 30 years. He and his wife, Martha Sink Khan, a nurse who worked by his side, were well-known for their kind and caring nature.

The Khan’s often provided care at no cost to patients, but more than that, they became trusted advisors within the community.

“Their door was always open," Phillip Khan recalled. "They helped people with all kinds of issues that they had – helped them purchase books, bring them meals, provide an open ear, and they never wanted any recognition.”

June Baker of Novant Health Foundation Brunswick Medical Center employed Philip Khan as an intern in her office when he was a student and has fond memories of the Khan family.

“His daddy was an awesome person. We all loved him,” Baker said. “Every day at 11 o’clock when the cafeteria opened, Dr. Khan would pull up in his gold Mercedes. You could set your watch by him. He ate in the cafeteria every day with hospital staff members – he was one of the family.”

She remembers how, even at his young age, Phillip Khan took after his dad.

“He was always really helpful, and nothing was beneath him," Baker said. "Even if I just asked him to make copies, he was happy to help."

It’s no surprise to her that the younger Khan, now a talented plastic surgeon, would want to continue his father’s legacy.

“My dad never pushed me into medicine," Phillip Khan said. "Even when I asked for his advice, he made it clear that he wanted me to make my own decision, but I always knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”

Phillip Khan left Brunswick County at age 18 to pursue his medical career. After graduating summa cum laude from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he went on to study medicine at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Then, he completed residency programs in both general surgery and plastic surgery, along with a prestigious fellowship in cosmetic plastic surgery.

Phillip Khan uniquely specializes in both cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. With his impressive credentials, he had job offers from across the country, but what Phillip Khan really wanted was to return to the Brunswick County beaches and surrounding area.

Wearing tailored suits with cowboy boots, Phillip Khan may not look like a typical beach-town resident, but he said that coming back just felt right.

“I wanted to give back to the community and take the opportunity to maximize every part of my training,” he said. “I wanted to be able to provide a range of services that have never been available here before.”

From his new office, located across the street from the office where his dad used to practice, Phillip Khan can address the needs of nearly any patient, from Botox injections and skin care products to offering cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. He is passionate about being able to offer head-to-toe cosmetic surgery as well as complex reconstructive procedures. After following a close friend’s journey with skin cancer, he has a particular interest in skin and breast reconstructive surgeries.

“In a larger market, plastic surgeons typically become highly specialized, but what really drew me to the field was the broad range of things I get to do,” Phillip Khan said. “There might be 100 different ways that you can go about a surgery, and I love that problem-solving aspect.”

An exercise enthusiast, he even uses his daily morning runs on the beach to mentally review his upcoming surgeries. In order to stay on top of the cutting-edge in his field, Phillip Khan spends his weekends researching and writing academic papers and book chapters on a variety of plastic surgery topics.

Sometimes, he finds time to tinker with his El Camino and classic Mercedes, another talent he picked up from his dad.

Mushtaq Khan’s name was up on the operating room schedule at then Brunswick County Hospital almost every day for nearly 30 years. For the few at the facility who remember those days, they are glad to have a Dr. Khan back in town.

“When Dr. Khan passed away, it left a big void, but I think he always knew that Phillip would return,” Baker said.





Published: 3/26/2015