One Physician’s Odyssey

The global voyage of Dr. Timothy Parish

Written by Les Levoy  Photography by Beau Gustafson

Dr. Timothy Parish, director of The Varicosis, Cosmetic & Laser Center, leans back in his chair. He laughs when asked how does a person born on a remote island in the Indian Ocean find his way to Birmingham. He says it’s quite an interesting story, with a lot of twists and turns.

His father was an agricultural soil scientist. He met Dr. Parish’s mother after the Second World War in Belfast, Ireland.  His parents found their way to Mauritius, a small island east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. That’s where Timothy Parish was born.  Dr. Parish spent his formative years in boarding schools in Kenya and England.

In 1976, his father and mother moved to Muscle Shoals, where he was named director of the outreach division of the International Fertilizer Development Center. Dr. Parish began attending medical school in England at 19. In his third year, he decided that he wanted to join his parents in the United States.  “I had been in boarding schools since I was a very young child,” he explained. “So, I really didn’t know my parents. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity.” He applied and was offered a position at Children’s Hospital. He was eventually offered a residency in pediatrics, where he gained valuable experience in vascular surgery, emergency medicine and pediatric anesthesia.

He met his wife, Janet, and all was good except for one thing—his visa was running out. If something was not done soon, he would have to return to England for a time.

“So, I visited the Health Department of Jefferson County and told them I had all of this education and training.  Surely there was need for physicians like myself in rural counties. It was amazing. Like magic. There was a new federal program to draw physicians to underserved areas in Appalachia. So, they told me, ‘Find an area that needs a physician.’  I did. I worked as a general practioner in Flat Rock, Alabama, for two years. I was the Flat Rock doc, and was able to acquire my green card.”

When he finished there, he became interested in the diagnosis and treatment of phlebology, which is the study of veins and venous diseases and disorders. He traveled to France several times, where the most current treatment was being created and practiced.  He had found his calling. In 1995, Dr. Parish founded the Varicosis, Cosmetic and Laser Center of Alabama. There he introduced many innovative techniques to manage varicosis, such as endovenous laser treatment, ultrasound mapping of veins, ultrasound guided sclerotherapy, ambulatory phlebectomy and transillumination sclerotherapy.

“Before  someone would have to go to the hospital for treatment of a venous disease or condition,” he said.  “They would have to visit the hospital for surgery. The procedure left very visible scars, and could be very painful.” That is where the old school methods and Dr Parish’s techniques take a divergent path.  “My procedures are not intrusive,” he explained. “They are injection-based, here in my office.  There is no need for my patients to check into a hospital for any type of surgery.”

Dr. Parish explained his experience with working with children and anesthesia, has given him the unique expertise of offering injection-based procedures for venous diseases and disorders. “I am injecting a needle into very small veins in the body, he said. “So, my experience in working with children’s veins has been a huge advantage in what I do, since they are so tiny”

The sum of all his past experiences has helped him build a solid practice with a base of over 16,000 patients.  He believes he’s able to give them exactly what they want and need. “In a lot of offices with this sort of practice, the nurses make the injections and perform other procedures.  I do everything. I make the diagnosis. I work with the patients to choose the proper procedure, I administer the anesthesia and the injections. I follow up with them.  And, I think the patients appreciate that level of expertise and training.”

Today, a large portion of his practice is venous disorders and conditions and cosmetic procedures like Botox injections or Juvederm. What’s different with his patients now versus 20 years ago? “For the most part, they are more educated on their options,” he said. “They have gone on the internet and seen what is available. They are also more proactive then before. Instead of coming in and asking me to make them look 10 years younger, many come in at a younger age and we talk about a proactive process which will give them a more youthful appearance over a long span of time.”

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