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Know thy neighbor


Dr. Abner
The field of cosmetic surgery keeps growing and continually changing with the development of new techniques and procedures.

Many of those techniques, and the resulting publicity, are responsible for bringing new groups of patients into surgeons' offices.

Liposuction is an example of a technique rarely done 15 years ago and now one of the most common surgical cosmetic procedures performed. Botox (Allergan) and facial fillers have also generated a new patient population for physicians specializing in cosmetic procedures.

Eye on competition Cosmetic Surgery Times wondered how much attention cosmetic surgeons pay to what is being done by other surgeons in their area. We asked if doctors try to stay abreast of the services being offered by their competitors — and if what the competition is doing affects what procedures they may decide to offer, or the way they market their practices.

Some surgeons say they have to keep an eye on what the competition is doing because it can impact what course they decide to follow. Others say that they simply do what they want to do and the patients continue to come.

Joseph C. Banis Jr., M.D., practicing in Louisville, Ky., and an associate clinical professor at the University of Louisville, says it's important to keep up with what is going on because that's the smart thing to do, but says it's still more important to do what you do well.

"For better or for worse, with the free market that we have, you have to know what others are offering — and advertising — and at what price they are offering services that might be in competition with yours. So, yes, you at least have to be aware of what is going on.

"How you respond to it, if you do, if you do any active response to it, is a different matter. But you certainly try to know what is happening."

In practice for 24 years with experience in an academic practice, a partnership and working solo, Dr. Banis says, "The big thing I have learned is that we don't act reactively. That fact that you know that some OB/GYN or some dermatologist is getting a laser doesn't mean you are forced to, or that you should necessarily do anything.

"I think the key to the success I've had is to know what services I provide and to focus on providing the services I provide very well; stress excellence in the service and the education."

Different challenges Michael Baruch, M.D., says practicing cosmetic surgery in Clifton, N.Y., offers different challenges. He is also chief of plastic surgery at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Patterson, N.J.

"The people in the community here just do not have the finances to take advantage of some of the newer technology," Dr. Baruch says. "It's difficult getting even some of the older procedures, such as breast reductions, covered."

But he still pays attention to what the competition is doing.

"I usually perform procedures similar to the ones other surgeons are doing in our community," he relates. "There are a lot of indigent patients in this community, so I have been offering the type of procedures these people deem necessary, and then I spend a lot of time writing letters to get the procedures approved.

"But if someone starts doing some trendy new procedure, I try to learn as much about it as possible. What I try to offer my patients is education about the procedures, and give them the opportunity to decide whether that's what they want."

Three years out of a well-known residency program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dr. Matthew H. Conrad was trained in the latest techniques and procedures, so he hasn't felt the need to keep tabs on the other surgeons around his practice in Wichita, Kan.


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