Unfortunately, there was some negative publicity last week in our plastic surgery community. This led me to some introspection regarding my chosen profession (cosmetic plastic surgery), and I wish to share a bit about some personal thoughts on the matter...thoughts I seem to have quite frequently.
I have often considered myself very blessed to have discovered a profession which allows me to inject a lot of myself in the care of my patients, very many of whom are female, and I love what I do. After many years of rigorous college academic preparation, medical school, two surgical residencies, and years of clinical practice, I feel I have earned the true honor of getting to know and care for my female patients. I respect them, I value their intellect and understanding of the cosmetic plastic surgical process and experience, and I really value the relationships I have built with my patients over the years. It never ceases to awe and amaze me regarding the amount of trust that is required of any surgical patient when they elect to undergo a surgical (or even non-surgical) treatment by a surgeon.
These patients may know us well already at the time of their treatments, or they may have just come to us upon the recommendation of a friend, family member, health care or other professional, but at some point, they make the decision to allow me to operate on them, or to treat them in some way. I (personally) do intensely feel a weight of responsibility to provide the best treatment experience available to these patients, and do truly feel honored to have been chosen by them. I think that if all physicians felt this degree of intimacy and privilege with their patients, that we would never read or hear of some of the negativity that sometimes surrounds this profession...lawsuits, sexual misconduct, poor outcomes from poorly selected procedures, or procedures performed on poorly selected patients, lack of attention to safety measures, lack of sound surgical judgement in selection of procedures or their combinations in properly accredited facilities, and on and on...
I am very proud of the road taken which has led me to the place where I believe my patients have selected a plastic surgeon who truly cares about them, involves them in sound surgical decision-making prior to embarking upon a plastic surgical plan, and a surgeon who has strived to maintain the highest standard in achievement of excellent surgical results.
My advice to prospective patients has always been to do your homework, insist upon open and honest communication, ask questions, seek referral opinions of other patients and professionals, pay attention to board certification and membership in aesthetic and professional societies, look for involvement in new research and technology, and maybe above all, look for a great feeling of rapport and even friendship with the surgeon you choose. If it doesn't feel "right", it probably isn't, and don't just look for the cheapest price in making your final decision. You deserve a surgeon and staff with whom you can foresee a long and enduring relationship. My staff and I believe that anyone can be fooled once, but it is the returning patient we feel who most honors us in our endeavors to be the best small practice around.