There are a few things that make Dr. Kambiz Kevin Sadraei a rare sighting among dentists in the United States. He had an unorthodox career path, for example, which saw him looking for the nexus of arts and science as a way to satisfy both sides of his curious personality, and he found it in dentistry, the most creative of medical professions apart from cosmetic surgery. Still, Dr. Kambiz Kevin Sadraei also gave his creative side some exercise by working as a music composer and arranger for a while, developing a skill set and work ethic he now applies in his dentistry career.

The thing that differentiates Dr. Sadraei from his colleagues—all 201,000 who, according to Health Policy Institute research, practice dentistry in the country—is that he is the only dentist in the United States who performs the cosmetic procedure called buccal fat removal. “The procedure is very popular in South America, where there are lots of dentists doing it,” he says. “That’s what got me involved in it, seeing those guys doing it and thinking, why couldn’t I learn it, too?”

Buccal fat removal is a cosmetic procedure that involves removing a small amount of fat from the area of the cheeks, leaving the person with more pronounced cheekbones and a “hollow” look on their cheeks. It’s usually performed by cosmetic surgeons, as it’s not something that dentists learn during their education. “Much like dental implants, they don’t train you for it in school,” explains Dr. Kambiz Kevin Sadraei. “I learned it by working with some plastic surgeons that I know in Cali, and just doing more research on it and seeing how other people are doing this technique.”

While there aren’t any dentists in the United States offering the same service as him, Dr. Kambiz Kevin Sadraei competes with the people who originally performed the procedure: cosmetic surgeons. His effort to differentiate himself led him to enter a completely different market. Dr. Sadraei wasn’t without an edge there either, as being a dentist among cosmetic surgeons had some advantages, too.

“Plastic surgeons have more knowledge of this whole area, and I’m sure that they do a great job. I’m not going to say that I’m better than them,” he explains. “But I am more focused, and I probably pay more attention to detail. People come to me specifically for that and it’s the only cosmetic procedure I do on them. I’ve also had the opportunity to do it 500 times, so I’m in practice.” On top of it all, Dr. Kambiz Kevin Sadraei has found that some things in the way he practices, with local instead of general anesthesia, translate to savings that he then passes on to the patients through reasonable pricing.

Dr. Kambiz Kevin Sadraei’s unique position and his dedication to work have allowed him to open two practices. He works with two other doctors who mostly take care of general dentistry, while he steps in when something more cosmetic needs to be done. Dr. Sadraei says that the work ethic that gave him so many happy patients and repeat business came from his days as a musician. “When I was a musician making arrangements for the songs, I was a perfectionist, and that transferred to dentistry,” says Dr. Kambiz Kevin Sadraei. “But there’s also a certain obsessiveness in it, as well as the attention to detail that you need to be a musician as well as a dentist.”

As a firm believer that having a general love for people is another thing that dentists need as much as musicians do, Dr. Kambiz Kevin Sadraei has built his practices on fair treatment of the people who work for him. Finding good talent is a major problem in his line of work, just as in almost any other industry, so keeping the good ones is something that warrants some effort.

Dr Kambiz

“First you need to find good staff, then you have to train them,” he says. “And then comes the maintenance and keeping them. But a lot of it goes back to just being a good person, a good boss, and treating people with respect and dignity. Being open, honest, and transparent goes a long way.”

This approach has worked for Dr. Kambiz Kevin Sadraei, but he also has to make it work for his patients. At the end of the day, dentistry has to be focused on the patients, their outcomes, and providing an excellent standard of care. Apart from being a skilled dentist and a good practitioner of the buccal fat removal procedure, Dr. Sadraei also implements workplace policies that ensure that all energy goes into patient care. “No personal drama in the workplace, as simple as that,” he says. “And I think that’s one of the most important things that I implemented, that made the practices successful. Because there’s no energy wasted. All our energy goes toward patient care.”

Written in partnership with Luke Linz