Adam H. Hamawy, M.D., wanted to offer his patients more than a temporary fix to their isolated cosmetic problems. He wanted to create an approach that offered long-lasting and sustainable improvements in beauty and health.
Dr. Hamawy’s solution: a more holistic approach to patient care. One that includes not only a nip or tuck, but also help with diet, exercise and motivation.
The Princeton, N.J., plastic surgeon tells Cosmetic Surgery Times that the components of his proprietary system of care is something others can incorporate in practice. This is why and how Dr. Hamawy does what he does.
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A Holistic Philosophy
Like other physicians who offer patients cosmetic procedures and surgery, Dr. Hamawy’s goal is to help patients look and feel better about themselves. But, he says, he also wants results to last and makes it a point not to present plastic surgery as the only solution to their concerns. His goal is to package diet, exercise and plastic surgery as one patient care service.
“People try diet plans, and they fail, and they do exercise programs… and fail. And they do plastic surgery, which is only one part of the puzzle,” Dr. Hamawy says. “Any one of those by themselves doesn’t do the trick, but, when you combine them all together, you can have long-lasting results, look better and feel better.”
He says there are studies in liposuction that suggest the approach works. One survey of hundreds of liposuction patients by Rohrich et al., published December 2004 in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, suggests: “Successful body contouring surgery requires a patient to embrace positive lifestyle habits.”1
Dr. Hamawy makes diet and exercise recommendations and coaches patients without partnering with other disciplines. It’s just something he does along with plastic surgery and procedures, he says.
He has become educated in other health and wellness aspects of life, in part, through his work in the military. Dr. Hamawy served as a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army, doing a tour of duty in Iraq and spending several years in Tacoma, Wash., at the Madigan Army Medical Center. He says his work in diet, exercise and wellness with military personnel and his own efforts at staying healthy help him to guide patients.
But the goal, Dr. Hamawy says, is to incorporate lifestyle changes that are based on individuals and are maintainable for the long-term.
He says he spends time before surgery, asking patients questions that help him to develop holistic approaches to their care. For a liposuction patient, he’ll ask why that person wants liposuction and what else they’ve done to lose weight. He’ll ask what they are eating, if they are exercising and offer pointers (and an ultimate plan) based on what hears.
“Someone … might be already exercising in the gym and I’ll say, ‘Listen, why don’t we add a cycling class a couple of times a week to what you’re already doing?’” Dr. Hamawy says. “[To] someone who is exercising but not dieting, I’ll say, ‘Rather than eating everything that you’re eating now and rather than going on a super diet program, why not just eat 2/3 of your plate or half your plate?’ [Or] ‘Drink a protein shake in the morning and in the afternoon keep doing what you’re doing.’ What I’m trying to do is stimulate is a lifestyle that is maintainable. I tell everyone that if you lose one pound every two weeks, that’s 26 pounds in a year that’s going to stay off.”
There’s a mental, or motivational, component, too. It’s more than a matter of giving patients a blueprint for how they can maintain wellness. Holistic care requires that providers stay in touch with patients. Dr. Hamawy says he already follows up with surgical patients. Why not ask them how they’re doing with the overall plan to stay healthy and beautiful?
This holistic approach takes more time and energy, but Dr. Hamawy does not bill for the extra time or dietary and exercise recommendations. He says he may consider billing for diet plans or selling shakes or other products in the future, but, for now, he thinks the approach leads to greater patient satisfaction and more referrals.
“I just feel like if you take care of patients, they see results that will last a long time. We don’t have to bill for every little component that we do. I think that just that extra touch that we’re currently giving makes us different than some of our other colleagues,” he says.
1. Rohrich RJ, Broughton G 2nd, Horton B, Lipschitz A, Kenkel JM, Brown SA. The key to long-term success in liposuction: a guide for plastic surgeons and patients. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2004 Dec;114(7):1945-52; discussion 1953.
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