Jennifer S. Hayes, D.O., had been practicing traditional obstetrics and gynecologic surgery for 15 years when a visit to Beverly Hills, Calif., changed her professional life.
In 2006, billboards, magazine and newspaper ads in California promoted procedures for women that would enhance their sexual gratification. Enticed by the idea of empowering women, Dr. Hayes returned to the group practice that she helped to create in Tampa, Fla., and researched and read all she could find on the topic of aesthetics and gynecology. She went back to Beverly Hills a year later to train with vaginal rejuvenation and cosmetic gynecology pioneer David Matlock, M.D., M.B.A.
The learning experience with Dr. Matlock helped Dr. Hayes to blend her strong foundation in gynecology with the meticulousness and artfulness of a plastic approach, she says.
“For me it was a perfect blend of what patients really wanted and what made them happy,” Dr. Hayes says.
By 2008, Dr. Hayes left the traditional group practice in Florida to open a private practice devoted to laser vaginal rejuvenation, cosmetic gynecology and intimate aesthetic surgery, called the Visionary Centre for Women.
Dr. Hayes tells The Aesthetic Channel that she hasn’t looked back and continues to learn. Earlier this year, Dr. Hayes completed advanced training with Red Alinsod, M.D., becoming an Alinsod Fellow.
She shares her thoughts with us on transitioning from traditional OB/GYN to aesthetic practice.
The Aesthetic Channel: What types of aesthetic procedures do you offer?
Dr. Hayes: I offer all different types of cosmetic services for the labia majora and the labia minora, including laser reduction labiaplasty; clitoral hood reduction; outer labial majoraplasty; mons liposuction; and liposuction of the abdomen, flanks, waist, bra line and muffin top. To help with sensation, I offer the G-Shot and O-Shot. I help patients with low libido and painful sex, or dyspareunia. I also offer vaginal rejuvenation, vaginoplasty and laser perineorrhaphy, and nonsurgical rejuvenation with Thermiva (Thermi).
The Aesthetic Channel: What challenges have you faced while making the transition?
Dr. Hayes: Aesthetic services don’t fit well into a traditional OB/GYN practice. So, I felt I had to stop with the group that I helped to build and started a new practice. That was a tough decision, emotionally, to leave my obstetrical patients.
The Aesthetic Channel: Why doesn’t it fit?
Dr. Hayes: The pacing of an OB/GYN practice is rapid fire. When you’re doing aesthetic work, you have to have a leisurely pace, allowing patients to feel comfortable. That can’t be done in 10-minutes, which is the way in OB/GYN. Each practice type suffers if you try to do both traditional and aesthetic.
I have a practice that is devoted to cosmetic gynecology and gynecologic surgery, recognizing that if I want my cosmetic practice to flourish, I have to devote myself completely.
You really have to immerse yourself in aesthetic practice. Women deserve excellence, and you can’t do it occasionally because you don’t end up having that very meticulous proficiency that aesthetics demands.
The Aesthetic Channel: What would you say are major considerations for readers wanting to make a change?
Dr. Hayes: I really believe that aesthetic vaginal work shines when someone already has a very strong surgical skill set. People generally know whether they have that or not. Once you have that, it’s something you’re able to build on. I’m an advocate of over-training and practicing before you implement any of your procedures.
From a business standpoint, if you’re going to add something, you have to take something away. And by adding that, you have to have low enough debt or enough financial reserve to make a change. That’s because you’re going to have to make an investment of your money and your time. And that cuts away from your productivity. If you want to add cosmetic gynecology, you can’t add it to an already over-filled OB/GYN schedule.
You’ll also need a setting that accommodates appointments that are 30 minutes to an hour each.
And you should be set up, generally, to have either a very nominal or free consultation.
In a traditional OB/GYN setting, patients are driven by their insurer and the doctors under those plans. In aesthetics, their decisions are not medically necessary, so patients drive the decision making. You have to be ready to market yourself, using all the channels that a patient would use to find you.
Even practice environment is a big consideration. I created a totally different spa-like setting that allows patients to feel open with their own sexuality, and, at the same time, a professionalism that they desire in a gynecologic office.
This is not only an emotional decision, but it’s also fee-for-service. Patients need a setting that commands their comfortability.
The Aesthetic Channel: What advice would you offer colleagues considering incorporating aesthetics into traditional practice?
Dr. Hayes: I would say initially commit to the artful study and practice that it takes to do any delicate, meticulous procedure. We are taught in obstetrics and gynecology training to complete procedures and visits very quickly—a ‘get-it-done’ approach to be able to step out in a moment’s notice. Aesthetics is nothing like that.
I would say, you can’t do it occasionally, especially if we’re talking about occasional labiaplasties. The labial anatomy is highly variable. Having an artful outcome that looks like patients didn’t have surgery is very challenging. Vaginal rejuvenation takes more precision than what we’re taught in traditional gynecologic surgery.
I think this is where people have a hard time. If they just try to dabble in it, they won’t get satisfactory results, and they take away from their pace that gives them a high return in traditional gynecology.
The Aesthetic Channel: How has the aesthetics practice changed your financial and professional satisfaction bottom line?
Dr. Hayes: Per patient, it has helped my bottom line. As long as I was doing both, it almost becomes a tough trade. This is predominately fee for service.
Empowering women is totally what I want. The message to others who want the same is to devote attention to women and excellence. I continue to enhance my training. We would want every physician to do that if they were going to incorporate this.