Name-Branded Procedures

Published: March 3, 2017
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In recent years, we have all seen increasing numbers of advertisements for cosmetic procedures with catchy names, especially pertaining to facial rejuvenation procedures and many patients ask us “what they are”.

These advertisements typically give promise of excellent results while implying that these can be achieved with minor procedures and minimal downtime. We are often asked about these procedures, and how they compare to what we have to offer.

The common thread with many of the “name-branded” procedures, whether for facial rejuvenation or body contouring, is that they began with a business and marketing approach, rather than evolving as a medical/surgical procedure. I have yet to see anything in regards to these procedures that is truly unique, other than a catchy (and trademarked) name, and aggressive marketing and sales techniques. The actual procedures behind the name are not in essence unique, but based on procedures that we as plastic surgeons have been performing routinely for years.

I have looked into some of the “name-brand clinics” that focus on facial rejuvenation procedures. Their promotional materials state just what patients want to hear – a simple procedure, minimal recovery, and outstanding results. There are very few specifics, however, in regards to what the procedure actually entails. Often, it seems, the marketers behind these clinics are trying to convince the potential patient that they have discovered some new, amazing technique, that only their clinic can perform, that achieves great results with almost no potential downside. When you look beyond the hype, you realize that these procedures are in fact facelifts, not inherently different than the types of modified or standard facelifts that we perform regularly. This is actually the one aspect of the “branded” procedures that I can support – facelifts are effective. That’s why facelifts have been performed for decades. Over the years our techniques have been refined, but the basic procedure is similar to what has been performed and taught in Plastic Surgery programs for many years.

I do, however, have some significant concerns regarding these “name-branded” clinics. The issues I have with them are:

  1. Lack of clear information given to patients inquiring about the procedure.
    It troubles me greatly that patients are not fully informed regarding what type of procedure they are having, and thorough discussions regarding risks, complications and alternatives may not be occurring.
  2. Consultations are often performed by an “assistant”, who is often a salesperson with minimal to no formal medical training. In my opinion, the consultation must be conducted, at least in large part, by the operating surgeon. An experienced surgeon will have the knowledge to determine what can be accomplished for each individual patient, and what needs to be done to achieve the best results possible. There are too many nuances in planning and performing these procedures to entrust this crucial step to anyone but the operating surgeon.
  3. The surgeons at these clinics may not be appropriately trained or have adequate experience to perform these procedures in a safe and consistent manner. This type of clinic is often started with only a business plan, but no one on staff to actually perform the surgery. The management will then attempt to find a surgeon who is willing, and at least minimally capable, of performing the procedures. Successful and established surgeons in any given area are often not interested in being a “hired-hand” for this type of clinic. This can force some clinics to accept practitioners that may be under-trained, inexperienced, and/or unsuccessful in their own practice.
  4. Often, these clinics emphasize short operating times as a major selling point. The implication is that a quick surgery, for some reason, is better. Obviously, any endeavor that requires technical skill and artistry will take great care and attention to detail to obtain excellent results. A patient’s face is priceless, and deserving of as much time as necessary to complete a surgery with precision and finesse. It is simply absurd to think that trying to complete a procedure in the shortest time possible is best for the patient.
  5. The surgeries are often performed in non-accredited procedure rooms. These clinics often tout that they only use local anesthesia, again implying that this is inherently better/safer for the patient. The fact is, many of these clinics are simply not qualified or licensed to administer anesthetic agents. They then attempt to turn this shortcoming into a positive by trying to convince patients that having sedation or general anesthesia is highly dangerous. The reality is, if patients have proper medical screening, and an accredited facility uses professional anesthesia staff, anesthesia can be provided very safely, allowing the surgeon to complete all aspects of the surgery with a patient that is not in pain.

The bottom line is that patients need to do a bit of homework when considering a cosmetic procedure

It’s important to be certain that the surgeon is board-certified or board-eligible in Plastic Surgery and is experienced in the procedure that you are considering. Insist on seeing before-and–after photos that show results of procedures done by that surgeon. Make sure the surgical center is accredited, and professional anesthesia personnel are available. Get more than one opinion, and don’t be sold on slick marketing campaigns.

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