Picture Tirbod Fattahi, MD, DDS, FACS, as a professional racecar driver.
Imagine him sporting a helmet and colorful jumpsuit adorned with the logos of his team’s many corporate sponsors. Several Sundays out the year, he celebrates a first-place finish at Victory Lane while thousands of fans cheer him on from the stands.
Perhaps that scenario is a little exaggerated, but it’s not too far-fetched when you consider one of his favorite pastimes.
Fattahi, associate professor and chair of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, is fascinated with high-end fast cars. But don’t worry, you won’t see him speeding dangerously along the highways in Jacksonville. He gets to fulfill his vehicular penchant on professional driving courses organized by a top-notch driving academy.
As with his work as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, the thrill and enjoyment of it all never seem to wane.
Finding his passion
Born and raised in the Iranian capital of Tehran, Fattahi moved to the United States with his family when he was 13. He spent the next 12 years in the Washington, D.C., area.
After completing dental school at Howard University, he discovered his interest in oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS). He then completed medical school at the University of Kentucky.
“I became intrigued by the ability to improve and modify facial appearances,” Fattahi said. “Faces are what people notice most.”
He did a six-year OMFS residency at University of Kentucky. He then went to Ohio State University to complete his fellowship in facial cosmetic surgery in 2002.
He began working at UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville later that year.
“There was something very different about UF,” Fattahi said. “I saw a lot of room for growth.”
When Fattahi arrived, the OMFS program was still a division. He served as division chief from 2007 to 2012 – the year the program received department status. Because of the upgrade, Fattahi went from chief to chair. That change brought on more administrative responsibilities and liberties.
“It’s now easier to communicate with leadership,” he said. “I’m more involved in the daily decision-making that affects our program.”
Despite the change in title, Fattahi says his essential duties remain the same: treating patients who come to UF Health Jacksonville with various diseases, defects or injuries that adversely affect the face, head, neck, jaw or mouth.
He primarily performs corrective-jaw, facial-aesthetic and facial-trauma surgeries. He said technology has improved efficiency in his surgical practice in the form of computer-assisted virtual surgery, which is done before any real incision is made.
“What we used to do as guesswork has been removed,” he said.
Fattahi feels a great sense of responsibility when taking care of patients. He thinks about how he would like to be treated if he were in their shoes. Through the years, he’s enjoyed seeing patients come back months after an operation to express satisfaction with their results.
Fattahi also spends part of his time teaching. The OMFS department has 18 residents and two fellows. He said the department is looking to bring on an additional faculty member to assume some further responsibilities.
“Education is a big part of what we do,” he said. “I enjoy teaching”
Fattahi’s personal side
Fattahi’s move to Jacksonville has benefited him personally, as well. He met his wife, Julia, just four months after he started working at UF. They’ve now been married 10 years and have two daughters, ages 8 and 6.
Inside his office on the UF Health Jacksonville campus, the walls are adorned with pictures of his family. He loves spending time with his wife and children, and says they’re his “No. 1 accomplishment in life.”
However, those office walls don’t offer any insight into his other passions beyond work. One of them involves fast cars.
Fattahi has attended classes provided by the renowned, Mercedes-Benz-affiliated AMG Driving Academy, which gives him the chance to drive high-performance vehicles along race tracks. German- and Italian-made cars are some of his favorite ones to try.
“I just enjoy the rush that you get from carefully driving in a fast automobile,” Fattahi said. “These cars are just amazingly built and are so fun to drive. I’m also fascinated by the pure science that is used to build these cars.”
Fattahi also likes to spend time on the water. Each summer, he and his friends plan a deep-sea fishing trip. In the past, they’ve ventured as far out as 35 miles into the Atlantic Ocean, coming across various fish and even some sharks.
“It’s an all-day thing, a fun time with a close group of friends,” he said. “Very relaxing.”
So there you have it – a talented OMFS chair who adores his family and loves to deep-sea fish and drive high-end fast cars. With someone as adventurous as Fattahi, there’s no telling what the next thrill will be.
Tirbod T. Fattahi, MD, DDS, FACS
Chair, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery; Program Director, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency