Dr. John Di Saia is a board certified plastic surgeon and physician blogger practicing in the OC, CA.
We've been following Dr. Di Saia's blog for years and we finally had a chance to get together an pick his brains about his practice.
Name: John Di Saia, MD
Location: San Clemente, CA
That's interesting: His first degree was in Neurobiology with High Honors from UC Berkeley (1986). He completed medical school at UC Irvine in 1990 and started a General Surgery residency that year at UC Irvine. He completed General and Plastic Surgery Residencies at UC Irvine in 1995 and 1997 respectively.
The doctor's post-graduate activities have included several publications in the medical journals, a regular series of articles in local newspapers and expert reviewer status for the California Medical Board since 2003. As an honest blogging plastic surgeon the doctor is frequently quoted in the Orange County Register and has appeared on a few television interviews as a voice of reason.
How did you start your journey to plastic surgery?
Cosmetic surgery is part of a plastic surgery residency. My beginning was in the cosmetic surgery clinic of the university in the mid-nineties. It is no secret that cosmetic surgery is the financial subsidy upon which a plastic surgery practice operates.
Can you tell us more about your clinic?
We run a very small shop for patients interested in a more intimate experience than is offered elsewhere. Patients see me for all medically related visits. I have one "girl Friday" staff member who handles the scheduling. We have flirted with the idea but never hired a medical aesthetician.
How do you hire and manage your staff?
By keeping the staff few hiring and firing has been made more simple. My staff is on a salary and I outsource the insurance billing. My office gal lives close by the office and handles much of the activity while away from the office.
Are you using IPL or laser technologies in your clinic?
We use no IPL and only the occasional CO2 laser in the operating room. I use far more TCA peels for skin care in the office as they serve well and are always available. I am unusually low tech and it works for me. Technology must actually provide better results to be of use to me. My patients choose me in many cases after experiencing a loss of trust with other doctors. I respect that and steer them away from technology that is often not cost-effective.
How do you market your clinic?
Traditional print advertising has never really worked well for us. I do not hype treatments, thus earning patient trust. My blog Cosmeticsurgerytruth.com has been pretty effective. I write all the posts and produce all the videos.
Occasional television interviews have been helpful as well. Surprisingly my Wipeout appearance was pretty unproductive. You would think a national show might be ground breaking. It wasn't. lol. Dealing with a small group of mainstream media producers with whom the experiences have been good has worked out well. With the media it is "live and learn."
What treatments generate the most revenue?
Surgery hands down. Cosmetic surgery pays the bills. Minor procedures and insurance work pay some overhead, but I could never survive on it. Overhead is just too high.
What is your view on emerging cosmetic treatments? Have you jumped into the bandwagon?
Hyping procedures is a short term gain. I may sell less by producing realistic expectations, but patient trust is worth it. I have pretty good brand loyalty. It has taken a good ten years to develop it. Integrity sells well in the long term.
What advice would you give to other physicians based upon your experiences? What mistakes can they avoid to keep their head above the water?
Be careful about blowing six figures on a glitzy office with high overhead in a down market. Treat your practice involvement like a stock portfolio: identify profitable niche markets and serve them well.
Choose office sharing arrangements equally carefully. Pay a staff person even in an office you do not run to look out for your best interests when you are not present. Unscrupulous office mates may try to steal the shirt off your back. They got a few of mine.
Tell your patients the truth and take the time and effort to provide high quality care. They will come to appreciate you over your competitors and some may travel many miles to see you. It is flattering.
About: I am a board certified plastic surgeon practicing in the heart of the OC (therefore the practice site name.) I completed both General Surgery and Plastic Surgery residencies and was double board certified for a time, but stopped maintaining the General Surgery certificate when Maintenance of Certification reared its ugly expensive head. What a racket!
This interview is part of a series of interviews of physicians running medical spas, laser clinics and cosmetic surgery centers. If you'd like to be interviewed, just contact us.