Dr. Douglas J. Key - Key Laser Institute for Aesthetic Medicine

Dr. Key's passion for research began at an early age, when he earned the opportunity to work with a Nobel Prize winning professor as a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley. Throughout his undergraduate education, Dr. Key travelled the country to take part in research opportunities in various aspects of biological sciences. Through this research, he became interested in the field of medicine.
Dr. Douglas Jeffrey Key Laser Institute for Aesthetic Medicine in Portland

Name: Dr. Douglas J. Key
Clinic: Key Laser Institute
Location: Portland, OR
Website: keylaserinstitute.com

That's interesting:  Dr. Key's most well-known research took place when he was a Clinical Fellow at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland. During this time, his innovative research led to the development of the drug Retin-A, which is commonly used for acne treatment and wrinkle reduction. He also spent time researching skin cancer prevention techniques and cellular methods to repair damaged skin.

Where do you see skin care moving and is there any topical treatments that have the possibility of displacing current medical technologies?

Where things are going in cosmetic medicine is a great question. Let’s begin by saying cosmetic medicine as a defined area of specialty knowledge and practice is barely a little over 10 years old. And by that I mean cosmetic medicine as a specialty medical based practice, a knowledge base deep enough to be exclusively devoted to aesthetics and separate from surgery and general dermatology. Ten years ago Thermage™ was just getting its FDA clearance, allowing us to do the unimaginable at that time - tighten skin without surgery. Fillers were just coming on board, but just used to fill lips. There were no concepts yet as to treating the aging face. There were no fractionated or pixilated resurfacing, it just hadn’t been invented yet. And the idea of using stem cells or platelet rich plasma, it was well off in the future. 

So in the first 10 years of cosmetic medicine we learned how to treat aging. In these next 10 years, we will no longer be just treating aging, we will truly be preventing aging. What a difference that will make. 

The future, which is already here, is not just what treatments we use in the office, but what is the best for your skin care program for every day use at home.

You offer lipo contouring treatments using Liposonix, LipoSelection and CoolLipo. What do you think of these devices’s efficacy? Where could it be improved? Does it have any shortcomings?

The improvement in our patients with CoolSculpting, which is totally noninvasive, are really amazing. We have had CoolSculpting now almost three years, and the results have really improved, partly because we now use overlapping chambers. We just have a better feel for how to place the cooling chambers. We also do a better job of clearly letting our patients know if it’s the best treatment for them, and how many sessions they should do - one, two or three sessions. 

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Dr. Franco Migliori - Plastic Surgery In Genoa, Italy

Italian Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Franco Migliori

Dr. Franco Migliori: What do successful plastic surgeons have in common?

Name: Prof. Franco Migliori, MD
Location: Genoa, Italy
Website: francomigliori.com

With medical malpractice claims that are 10x the European average and a a growing trend towards unregulated minimally or non-invasive proceedures, plastic surgery in Italy is a competitive market.

Dr Migliori's been an early adopter of new technologies, including the internet, where he's been on the web since 1995, ready for the challenges and opportunities of online marketing.

As a plastic surgeon in Italy, how have you seen the aesthetics market developing? 

Italy has a very competitive cosmetic surgery market due to one of the highest number of board certified plastic surgeons in Europe (more than 1,500) and due to a loosly regulated market, with more than 25,000 so-called "aesthetic surgeons", many of which have much less expertise and skill. Nevertheless, Italian plastic surgery is one of the “top quality” plastic surgery countries, planting its roots back in the centuries with famous names like Branca, Vianeo, Tagliacozzi and Sanvenero-Rosselli, and showing so many contemporary high-level practitioners.

Like most places, the patient types are split into “institutional” (gathering all the pathologies, like traumas, tumors, malformations, burns, etc.) treated mainly in public hospitals and paid by National Health System, and “private practice” (which is mainly aesthetic surgery) performed in private clinics and paid by the patients themselves with no

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Dr. Herbert Hooi, Cosmetic Physician In Sydney, Australia

Australian Cosmetic Physician  Herbert Hooi MBBS (Syd) LLB (Hons) (UWA) FACEM Dr. Hooi takes center stage as he discusses the prevailing structure of cosmetic medicine in Sydney, Australia.

Name: Herbert Hooi MBBS (Syd) LLB (Hons) (UWA) FACEM
Location: New South Wales, Australia
Website: drhooi.com.au

That's interesting: Dr. Hooi completed an Honours Law degree at the University of Western Australia and obtained further real-world legal experience with a top tier Australian law firm. Dr. Hooi has been admitted to practice as a Solicitor and Barrister of the Supreme Court of Victoria. Although he is no longer practising law, Dr. Hooi maintains a keen interest in legal medicine.

Dr. Hooi is a member of the Australasian Society of Cosmetic Medicine and is an Associate Member of the American Society of Laser Surgery and Medicine. Dr. Hooi’s training and experience led to his award as a Foundation Fellow of the Australasian College of Aesthetic Medicine in 2009.

In 2010, Dr. Hooi was selected to become the national trainer in Australia for the Fibropen System, platelet rich plasma (PRP) and Radiesse.  

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Dr. Joe Niamtu III, Cosmetic Facial Surgeon

Our interview with Dr. Joe Niamtu, III, about his cosmetic surgery practice in Virginia.

Physician:Dr. Joe Niamtu, III DMD
Midlothian, VA
That's interesting:
Dr. Niamtu and his wife April have been chairpersons for Noah's Children, Operation Smile, Richmond ARC and are also active in the Safe Harbor Women's Shelter, March of Dimes, Conner's Heroes and other charities.

Profile: Dr. Joe Niamtu III is well known in international cosmetic facial surgery circles as surgeon, teacher and author and is regarded as a key opinion leader by academics and clinicians worldwide. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery and the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery. He is board certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and lectures internationally on cosmetic facial surgery. Dr. Niamtu has taught on six continents and has written four textbooks as well as 22 chapters on other textbooks. He has authored hundreds of publications on various cosmetic facial surgery topics and a has served on the board of directors of the Cosmetic Surgery Foundation and chaired numerous committees with the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.

Dr. Niamtu was kind enought to talk to us about how he got started in cosmetic medicine and how he's grown his practice.

Thank you for joining us today Dr. Niamtu. Can you fill us in a little on how you got started in cosmetic surgery?

My maxillofacial training included 5 years of complex facial operations including, trauma, reconstruction, cancer, TMJ and other procedures. I always enjoyed the aesthetic part of this, but I trained before lasers, endoscopic surgery, neurotoxins and modern fillers. Cosmetic training began to become core in numerous specialties including plastic surgery, ENT, Dermatology, ophthalmology and oral and maxillofacial surgery. I noticed that the maxillofacial surgery residents were getting cosmetic facial training and it was part of the oral and maxillofacial surgery board exam and also covered by our malpractice insurance. Being friends of Jean and Alastair Carruthers, I got onto the Botox bandwagon early. By the mid 1990’s I was proficient at endoscopic surgery from TMJ procedures and browlifting was a natural step. I was one of the early surgeons to use lasers for cosmetic procedures and I simply just got bit by the cosmetic surgery bug. I loved anything having to do with cosmetic facial surgery and spend hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars learning contemporary facial surgical procedures.  This became a bigger and bigger part of my practice and in 2004 I limited my practice to cosmetic facial surgery, which it remains today.

I'm a teacher at heart and almost went into academics. I have always enjoyed writing and lecturing and quickly began lecturing and publishing on cosmetic facial surgery. I have written hundreds of articles on cosmetic facial surgery, written 4 textbooks, and lectured on 6 continents. I currently lecture over 20 times a year and cosmetic facial surgery remains not only my job, but my passion.

Can you tell us more about your cosmetic clinic?

My office is a 5,200 square feet state of the art, fully AAAHC accredited office ambulatory surgery center.  We have a spa like environment, but have no formal spa or aesthetician. Our environment caters to upper class females and males (but we also do significant pro bono work). We have two operating rooms that rival any hospital and a recovery suite to accommodate same day or 23 hour patients. We have 4 consult suites, two of which can double as minor procedure rooms. There are several employee offices and a business room to deal with patient consents and finances.

We have a single surgeon (me!) and 8 staff. This includes 2 receptionists, 2 R.N.’s, a manager, 2 surgical assistants and a cosmetic coordinator. We work, work, work.  We probably see enough patients for 2 docs, but it is just me. We rarely eat lunch as we “take all comers” and my staff is great at making it all work.

That sounds like a your staff runs the clinic like machine. What have you learned about managing staff?

I, (like any doc that has been in practice for 30 years) could write a book about staffing. It is truly the biggest challenge to any successful practice. It is such a complex topic, it is difficult to even discuss in a short space like this. I think the basics are to find employees that need to work. Keep them excited by making the game big enough. Anything that is not moving forward is moving backward! Never accept mediocrity and always strive to be the best. I tell my staff that if they don’t think we have the best office in town, they should send our patients somewhere else. I think that salary is important, but finding staff that enjoys the job is more important. We still pay health insurance which helps attract good staff.  Basically, doctors are poor HR people and we insist on a manager experienced in staff issues.

One problem that many doctors make is keeping a substandard employee because they want to be a good guy or girl. A poor employee can drag down the entire staff and be the bad apple. If an employee does not seem to be working out, it is important to terminate them soon. It is never easy, but if the doctor and other staff is not happy, the poor employee is probably not either. We always do this with respect and simply tell the employee that they are not progressing in the same direction of our practice vision. I really need sharp staff.  A “ten” employee at some offices may be a “six” at my office. Although this is easier now, it was leaned on the back of hard lessons. Many of them involved me and my behavior as well. We all learn what it takes to lead and manage a successful, winning team, it takes years for most of us.

What are your thoughts on the IPL and laser technologies you’re using now?

I have used IPL for years and used the Lumenis 1 machine. It performed fine but my practice is limited to head and neck surgery and that rules out a lot areas that the machine could potentially service. Due to this I have sold the machine and currently do not offer IPL. I think it is a great therapy, but my experience was that for every 10 patients you treated, 3-4 did not appreciate the gain or feel it was worth it. I have a surgical practice and my patients expect big changes with single treatments, so the IPL did not fill that requirement.

I am a huge CO2 laser fan and use the Lumenis Encore. I have the Lumenis Active and Deep FX fractional machine, but just don’t use it much. Unlike most of the planet, I am currently unimpressed by fractional laser treatments. I am a still a fan of “old school” laser resurfacing and last year I performed 60 full face CO2 laser treatments. I am talking about high fluence, high density, multipass treatment with a two week recovery. Many surgeons have embraced fractional technology, but nothing can touch the results of traditional CO2 resurfacing. Yes, the recovery is 2 weeks, but that is pretty reasonable to turn back a half century of aging. I have to laugh when I hear surgeons forsake the two week recovery and then in the same breath say they are doing 4-6 fractional treatments on the same patient.  That is bad math. Some of my friends that have minimally invasive practices love fractional treatment and again, I have a surgical practice and my patients expect results that can be seen in a before and after picture. In my experience most fractional treatments show little result. and Aggressive CO2 is still the gold standard for rejuvenation and scar improvement. I have the Lumenis Active and Deep FX fractional machine, but just don’t use it much. I have instituted numerous steps to make “old school” laser treatment easier on the surgeon, staff and patient which could be the subject of a future article.

I also have a Iridex 940/532 laser and really enjoy it. The 940 wavelength is awesome for spider veins and pigmented lesions and I don’t utilize the 532 much as the 940 is superior, especially with deeper and or bluer veins. It also works well with venous lakes and small hemangiomas.

Finally, this is a confusing time to buy new devices as I think that the promotion by media and companies has gotten out of hand and is not evidence based. Young practitioners need to be very careful about investing in unproven technology as it can come back and bite you. If you buy some “miracle” laser or fat melter and begin a big media campaign, you can drive patients into your office and if the technology does not live up to your hype, you can permanently ruin your credibility. My advice to novice surgeons “stay on the cutting edge and avoid the bleeding edge". Every time some new miraculous device appears on The Doctors, or some morning show, our phones immediately light up. The public is hungry for big results with no down time, but we are not there yet.

Question: How do you market your clinic?

My marketing budget in 1999 was $200, and has obviously grown significantly as my practice progressed. There is no doubt that my marketing has contributed to my success, but you have to be a good surgeon to make it work. You can spend millions on marketing and if you can’t back it up, it does not work.

Also you have to walk before you run. For new offices, internal marketing with web and social marketing can be effective for very little cost. As the offices progresses, the next step is to branch out into other media. Print advertising is the next most cost effective with radio and TV being more expensive. I believe in a shotgun approach, throw some seeds everywhere.  I divide my budget between newspaper, magazines, mailers, radio, TV, and other outlets. I think a good goal is to invest a certain amount of your gross to marketing and keep the formula going.

Also remember, treating people great and special is free and there is no more powerful marketing than patients sending other patients.

I am one of those nerds that does their own website and blog. Yes, I spend a lot of time doing it, but I really benefit from it as well. You can’t get any more personal touch than directing your own material.

Getting known for your work is also great marketing. I love to teach and lecture over 20 times per year. I give courses at my surgery center twice a year (www.cosmeticsurgeryeducation.com) and also market a cosmetic facial surgery DVD series.  I have written 4 textbooks, 22 textbook chapters and hundreds of articles on cosmetic surgery. Patients like to see their surgeons name in print and it bolsters your reputation.

What treatments or services are most profitable for you?

Profit is not a four letter word in surgery but loss is.  Some doctors feel uncomfortable about discussing money, but in the end, we are all running a business. I would guess that cosmetic eyelid surgery, radiowave mole removal and neurotoxin injection are among the most profitable procedures considering time spent and monies collected.  Fillers are less profitable because I numb every patient with topical, then local anesthesia and it takes longer, but pays for itself in bringing patients in.  As I stated earlier, I have stopped performing IPL as I do all treatments myself and it was too time consuming.

What have you learned about practicing cosmetic medicine that can help other docs?

Cosmetic medicine is an upper class luxury and elective and these patients expect to be pampered and catered to. It is truly a different clientele from the patients that practitioners may see within their specialty. When I was doing a lot of facial trauma, patients would be grateful just to be treated and look normal. On the other hand, a facelift patient with a tiny scar may complain incessantly. In some respects, it is high stakes poker as many our patients are not happy with themselves and may poses body dysmorphic traits which makes rational treatment and results difficult to convey. All cosmetic doctors also practice psychiatry in a sense as you must figure out and manage the mental game of many patients. This is also a highly litigious group.

Luckily there are many grateful patients that make it worth going to work everyday,

What advice would you give to other physicians based upon your experiences?

Do what you love and love what you do. I truly have a passion for cosmetic facial surgery and on Sunday night, I am psyched up about going to work on Monday.  To me that is the definition of success! Winning is not that hard.  Treat your patients better than anyone else, always put the patient and patient safety first, follow the Golden Rule, back up your work, stay on the cutting edge, give back to your community and be an humble and approachable person and you will be successful.

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.

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Healthy Aging's Annual "Top of Class" Survey

Our friends over at Healthy Aging are gathering their annual "Top of Class" votes for our industry.  Cast your votes and we will publish their results in January.

Physicians must stay on the cutting-edge of technology. Your knowledge of leading industry reps, manufacturers and distributors can assist your colleagues during crucial equipment selection and purchasing decisions. Share your experience with colleagues in our annual "Top of the Class" survey, which allows dermatologists, estheticians and plastic surgeons to identify companies they feel are "among the elite."

Review the categories listed below, then cast your vote for your favorite vendors* by Dec. 30, 2010. We’ll tabulate the results and share the "Top of the Class" vendors online in January 2011. 

Click here for the survey.

The (Generally) Lame State Of Medical Center Press Releases

I use a number of pages that I've customized to receive information about cosmetic medical centers, technologies and companies.

There's always one or two totally lame press releases that come up from clinics who don't really have anything to say and are trying to use the PR listing services to bump up thier search engine rankings.

Here are a couple of examples just today:

  • AcuMedSpa Holdings, Inc. Appoints New Board Member
  • AcuMedSpa Holdings, Inc. Announces Corporate Updates
  • Lake Forest Plastic Surgery in Chicago Launches Redesigned Web Site

Now I don't mean to pick on AcuMedSpa or Lake Forest Plastic Surgery. They're just trying to increase their rankings and that's something that every medical center should be looking to do. But there are better ways than creating drivel that can never be consumed and were never designed to be read.

Press releases are a relic of the 80's and very nearly useless compared to what can now be done with content. Most businesses still release them but the benefit is negligible and is generally only read by the person that the release is about. Who the hell cares. It's a waste of time and money that could be better spent on actually getting in front of potential patients. The opportunity cost for this stuff far outweighs the benefit and is usually promoted by those who don't have any ideas of their own. Everybody else does it so we should too.

Ah, I rant. It's not all bad of course. There are some minor benefits but it's not the best way to get the rankings you actually want. (The very first thing that I'd suggest that you do is run a free report on your web site to see where you currently are.)

If you're sending out drivel and calling it newsworthy, please stop. It's killing me.

Plastic Surgery Trends For 2010

The Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery thinks they know what’s in store for cosmetic medicine in 2010, from how the newly proposed “Botax” could affect your self-improvement plans to which new products will come to market. Here's what you might see in 2010:

Even More Botox-Like Products Will Come to Market

First there was Botox Cosmetic; then 2009 brought the Botox alternative Dysport. In 2010, expect to see a few more Botox rivals, including a topical form of the popular wrinkle relaxer and at least one more injectable. A couple of injectable Botox cousins are in development, but PurTox will likely be the next to get a nod from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The main difference in these injectables seems to be how long the results last and how quickly the products start to work on your crow’s feet.

Fat Injections to the Breast Will Be Used Cosmetically
After being condemned by plastic surgery associations, fat injections to the breast were deemed OK for "touch-ups" after breast reconstruction in 2008. But these once controversial injections may soon play a role in cosmetic breast augmentation. Taking fat from a part of the body where there is too much (your thighs or butt, for example) and injecting it into your breasts where there is too little, may replace the need for breast implants when done in conjunction with a breast lift. Some kinks still need to be worked out, but fat injections to the breast are likely here to stay.

Surgeons Will Invent – and Perfect – Body Contouring Surgeries to Follow Massive Weight Loss

More and more people are undergoing bariatric surgery to lose weight, only to be left with hanging fat and flab in highly visible areas. As plastic surgeons put on their thinking caps to better address these issues, expect to hear about many new procedures, including the corset trunkplasty. This new surgery targets above-the-belly-button flab, to recreate an hourglass silhouette in formerly obese women and get rid of love handles in men who have lost massive amounts of weight. This area has been ignored by many traditional body contouring procedures that target the lower abs, buttocks and/or thighs. We will hear more about corset trunkplasty and other innovative body contouring procedures in 2010.

Fat Freezing Heats Up in 2010

Fat freezing (or cryolipolysis) may give liposuction a run for its money in the coming years. This technology works by freezing fat cells and breaking them down. Zeltiq is in clinical trials now, and results look promising. Stay tuned.

Cohesive Gel Breast Implants Receive FDA Approval

These so-called "gummy bear implants" have been making their way down the pike for some time, and they just may get the long-awaited FDA nod in 2010. Filled with cohesive silicone gel, these leak-resistant implants – used in Europe and Brazil – are being studied in the United States. Gummy bear implants have the positive attributes of silicone gel, but the gel doesn't migrate. This is a good thing, because if the shell should fail, the gel wouldn’t leak into surrounding tissue.

Lipodissolve Study Results Stun Skeptics

Lipodissolve, an experimental "fat-melting" technology, is being billed as a non-surgical alternative to liposuction. Also called mesotherapy, lipodissolve is performed via injection of a cocktail of chemicals into muffin tops, saddlebags, love handles and other trouble spots to dissolve fat cells. Critics were outspoken, which is why the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery started a rigorous scientific study of lipodissolve, using standardized ingredients. And while even the trialists were skeptical at first, and the final results have not been tallied, it works. The study results – to be released in 2010 – may encourage many doctors to offer lipodissolve. Still, lipodissolve is only for small areas of localized fat and will never replace liposuction.

“Botax” Will Raise Eyebrows

A health care reform bill will be passed in 2010, and it just may include a five percent tax on all cosmetic surgery procedures (except those deemed medically necessary). Let’s say that breast augmentation with implants costs $10,000 in 2008; add a five percent levy, and the total becomes $10,500 in 2010. With business already down, most plastic surgeons are up in arms about the Botax. There is also fear that taxing cosmetic surgery in the U.S. will encourage many to seek out services abroad or through unskilled providers who offer procedures at cut rates in America, compromising their safety.

Surgery-Free Tummy Tucks Trim Waistlines

Non-invasive body contouring procedures such as Thermage, VelaShape, UltraShape, LipoSonix and Zerona will continue to grow in popularity in 2010. Once reserved for the face,

Thermage also uses radio waves to lift and firm skin on your stomach, knees, arms, legs, hands or butt.
VelaShape employs bipolar radiofrequency energy to reduce the size of the fat cells, along with infrared heat to tighten the skin. And Zerona uses a “cold” laser to painlessly zap the fat cells beneath your skin. These technologies (and more) may give tummy tucks and lower body lifts a run for their money in 2010.

Face Transplants Face Upsurge

Face transplant surgery was once nothing more than fodder for sci-fi thrillers like the movie Face/Off, but they are now becoming a reality. Eight have been performed so far in the United States and abroad, but there will likely be many more as reconstructive facial surgeons further hone their skills and work toward perfecting their highly complicated techniques.

Minimally Invasive Cosmetic Procedures Experience Rebirth

As our economy starts to show signs of life again, more people may opt for cosmetic surgery procedures, reversing the steep decline of the last two years. Don't expect the numbers to reach their record highs anytime soon, though. There will likely be a slight increase in plastic surgery procedures – especially minimally invasive ones such as injectables that allow people to put off more invasive (and expensive) procedures like face lifts until they really need them (and can better afford them).

Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery is published by Ceatus Media Group LLC, an online provider of health information and physician directories. Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery is a registered trademark of Ceatus Media Group LLC.

Cosmetic Surgeons enlist patients to fight the Botox Botax.

Cosmetic surgeons are asking for patient help to fight the Botox Botax. Here's what the ASDS (American Society for Dermatologic Surgery) is giving it's members to solicit the support of Botox consumers: Here's the form.
The U.S. Senate health care reform bill  (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) contains a proposed 5 percent tax on "elective cosmetic medical procedures."  While this may look like an attractive option to Senators looking for ways to pay for health care reform, we know that:
  • Cosmetic medical procedures taxes are an unreliable and risky revenue source, which has proved to be a failure at the state level;
  • A tax on cosmetic surgery discriminates against working women;
  • The definition of cosmetic procedures is arbitrary and almost impossible to administer; and
  • enforcement would necessitate review of patient medical records by tax collectors, a clear invasion of privacy.

Please enter your zip code below to be connected to an automatic email system which allows you to send a quick message to your Senator asking him/her to vote against this tax.

I've received an number of emails about this over the last 48 hours. Is anyone worried that this 'Botax' will hurt your medical spa, skin clinic or cosmetic practice?