Photo courtesy of Joseph Capella, M.D.
Choosing the Right Surgeon for Body Contouring After Weight Loss: Physician Expertise
My Bariatric Life: Along that same vein, how does a patient discern if the plastic surgeon has specific expertise in performing a particular body contouring procedure? I imagine there is a great difference between plastic surgery of the body and of the face. As well, a procedure such as a medial thigh lift is much more challenging than a tummy tuck.
Dr. Capella: Well, yes, that is why you have to ask the surgeon specifically. And if there’s any question or doubt, have him write it down. Because people talk. But if you say, “OK, would you please write that down?” or “Is it on your website somewhere?” I would take the website as a pretty serious venue for the surgeon describing him or herself because it can be copied, and it’s a document in a sense. So, if you’re seeing that, and the surgeon is providing you with all the information about frequency, and you feel that you’re comfortable with that, then it’s fine.
Is there a difference with the face and neck? Only in that you’d want the expertise that you feel comfortable with in that particular procedure. It is difficult for any one surgeon to say they’re experts in everything. It doesn’t exist, quite honestly. That’s why in my own practice I don’t do noses now, and things that I’m not doing enough that I feel comfortable not only doing the surgery but managing complications, too. When everything works out fine then there’s no problem. It’s when there are issues that you really test your skills.
MBL: So, what if it requires going out of state, then, to find the best-qualified surgeon to do your surgery? I certainly know that you have patients who are out of state.
Dr. Capella: Right. I think you’ll find that surgeons who are experts in their fields do this all the time. And even on their websites they may make note of that, and make accommodations for that. So, I would just follow their instructions regarding length of time to stay in the area. And then they should make aware to you potential complications and how they might be treated, for those that may occur later. Because there are certain complications that tend to occur within a certain time period that really are unlikely to ever to happen again.
So, I think it can be done very well — and it’s been done for decades — but you have to follow the recommendations made by that surgeon and for follow-up. In cases where I want to take care of all acute issues, I say stay in the area for two weeks and then it’s very unlikely that you’ll have anything acute any more. Those other issues that can occur afterward usually can be handled by anybody locally.
MBL: Still continuing along this vein, easy rapport with and access to the surgeon post-op is vital to patient safety and well-being. What protocols should the patient expect the plastic surgeon have in place to provide this much needed level of support?
Dr. Capella: I think every physician or their associate should be available at all times. I hear a lot of patients having a hard time reaching their physicians and this concerns me. The doctor should always be available via telephone, but in this day and age I think it’s been very helpful using the Internet to be available for less acute issues that don’t need to be addressed immediately. Questions that maybe the patient doesn’t feel comfortable or feel it’s appropriate to call about can be emailed or texted along with photographs.
Easy rapport is important, not just because it is nice but because you will not hesitate to express concerns. Just as you would with a friend you won’t hesitate to bring up concerns and issues whereas somebody you are not as comfortable with you may hold back. And in the sense of recovering from surgery, in a medical situation it can be quite serious if you feel you’re not going to call your doctor because you’re just being bothersome and he or she seems annoyed every time you call. That can have health implications. Rapport can translate into safety.
Living life well-fed,
My Bariatric Life
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Published On: August 29, 2013