Interview With the Surgeon: Dr. Brundage
Dr. Scott R. Brundage M.D. is a board certified plastic surgeon at The Centre for Plastic Surgery in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He specializes in laser technologies, and has extensive experience with the new generation of silicone breast implants, which were approved in November of 2006.
TCSD: What makes your facility unique among cosmetic surgery centers?
Dr. B: What we've done here at our office is we've changed how we treat our patients, so that from start to finish, their experience is a positive one as well as a memorable one. Our office is more than a mass production; we pride ourselves in our one-on-one treatment.
TCSD: The Centre for Plastic Surgery has been in practice since 1983. How have you changed over the years, and what do you think has been your greatest accomplishment?
Dr. B: Initially it started out as a two-person plastic surgery group and now we've expanded to a three-person group, and that's about the right size we need to be for our patients. We've established ourselves as the premiere cosmetic surgery center in West Michigan.
TCSD: I noticed that you offer a variety of non-surgical procedures. What advantages do these procedures offer to your patients?
Dr. B: I don't know if it's an advantage in every case, but it's an extra option. Not every person that comes through the door needs or wants to go through an extensive surgical procedure. We have the option to offer them something non-surgical or minimally invasive. It's more or less being able to have that option, to tell them, "You're not really ready for a facelift, it's not something you need at this point in time." Also, even when you have had a facelift and look great, it's helpful to have these little add-ons such as Botox to give you the best result.
TCSD: What percentage of your patients are male versus female? What is the typical age range for your patients?
Dr. B: Statistically, on a national basis, probably 80%-90% of cosmetic surgery is female based, and it's probably the same for us. Age range is really dependent on what procedure you're looking at. If it's facelifts we're looking at, the age group is from the late 40's to 60 or above, whereas something such as breast augmentation has a younger population, from 20-40, so it's really procedure dependent, but we do all different ages.
TCSD: What procedure are men most interested in? Women?
Dr. B: For men, I think the top three would be rhinoplasty, eyelid surgery, and liposuction. For females, probably breast augmentation, liposuction, tummy tucks, and sometimes eyelids as well.
TCSD: What is the most frequent hesitation you see in your patients' attitudes towards their procedures and how is that problem addressed?
Dr. B: I'd say it's probably two different things. One is that they're nervous, afraid of surgery, and for that it's more or less just reassurance, and explaining to them what is safe and what are the risks. We tell them that we're an accredited operating room and all of our surgeons are board certified with lots of years of experience. The other concern is financial, and things can be done to address that because we offer financing.
TCSD: What are the motivations for your patients to have cosmetic surgery?
Dr. B: I think the biggest and foremost reason is they just want to feel better about themselves. And that's the right reason to be here. If you're here for some other reason than yourself then you're not a good candidate for surgery.
TCSD: Some of the common misconceptions I've heard are that cosmetic surgery is too expensive, dangerous or embarrassing. What would say to someone who has these concerns?
Dr. B: As far as cost, something that most people have is what's called "disposable income". You can spend your money on a vacation or whatever, and you can spend your money on surgery as well. People spend money on vacations to have fun and feel good. Well, it's the same for cosmetic surgery. I'm not sure about how embarrassing cosmetic surgery is, but as far as dangerous, everything has a risk. We try to minimize this using safety and a qualified staff. But cosmetic surgery as a whole is not high-risk surgery.
TCSD: For patients who are concerned with surgical errors, what is the realistic chance of a patient suffering a bad cosmetic surgery experience? Which procedures hold the most risk?
Dr. B: There's always that possibility. It's not really an "error", but sometimes people heal differently, and that's why we watch patients for close to a year so we can make sure they heal the way they need to heal. If they don't heal the right way, we do touch ups. It's less than 10% of the time that we need to do them, and if we have do have to do it, we do it without a surgeon's fee. It costs us to do the touch ups, but that's part of doing business. I'm not sure which procedures hold the most risk for us, but statistically, it's rhinoplasty that requires the most frequent touch up, but this is still only around 10 percent.
TCSD: How do you explain the risks of cosmetic surgery to your patients?
Dr. B: During the consultation, we explain everything, all the possibilities, what can go wrong, even the rare ones. I commonly state, we all drive our cars around, and there's a risk to that as well... We have to take everything into consideration. A woman came in earlier today for a consultation, and she was worried because she'd never been put to sleep and she was worried about anesthetic. I told her that, statistically, problems with anesthesia happen in less than one in ten thousand procedures. That's a very low risk.
TCSD: What do you think is the greatest challenge to cosmetic surgeons today, and how is that challenge being handled? Do you think that is the best solution?
Dr. B: I suspect the biggest thing for board certified plastic surgeons is competition, and procedures that are being done by people who are non-qualified. It's difficult for our specialty, because a lot of are trying to perform these surgeries without certification, more or less to make money. A fair number of them have had bad training and when something goes wrong it looks bad for all of us. The public often doesn't know the difference between a board certified plastic surgeon and a "cosmetic surgeon". The best solution to change that is just to educate the public. To understand what board certification means and what a board certified plastic surgeon is.
TCSD: How do you ensure good results to your cosmetic surgery patients?
Dr. B: Well we always say, "safety first". Use the newest techniques, and as we said before, treat everyone as an individual so they each get the expected results.
TCSD: I have read some of your patients' testimonials, and there are a few comments about your staff specializing in treating people "like real people" by being very non-biased and informative. What are some other ways that cosmetic surgeons like yourself make their patients feel at safe and welcomed?
Dr. B: We as a whole at our office want to be able to relate to our patients so that they feel comfortable with us. You always need to trust your surgeon because you're allowing them to take you into their hands. If you can relate to them as well, as an individual, then they feel more comfortable. We come down on the same level; we don't want to be on a white pedestal.
TCSD: How has cosmetic surgery changed over the last few years? Which new innovation has had the greatest impact on your practice?
Dr. B: Statistically, cosmetic surgery is growing dramatically. According to ASPS, our national society, in the last five years it's gone up 50%. As far as new innovations, there's lots of things. Everything from ultrasonic liposuction to lasers to endoscopic procedures to the return of silicone breast implants. They're better and safer, they're improved. So it's not a one specific thing, there's a lot of things that keep occurring in plastic surgery.
TCSD: How do you think cosmetic surgery will change as time progresses?
Dr. B: I think what the public wants is newer techniques that will offer quicker recoveries, and if you look at stats, the biggest increases are things like Botox and other non-invasive procedures. You need to understand that Botox is more affordable than surgery. We've become a "now and quick" culture, starting years ago with fast food. We want quicker procedures with less recovery time.
TCSD: What are your personal hopes for the future of cosmetic surgery?
Dr. B: That we can continue to offer the newest and safest procedures, so that everyone can get the best result with the highest concern for safety.
TCSD: If you could change one thing about cosmetic surgery today, what would it be?
Dr. B: This relates to what I mentioned earlier: that we better educate the public, so people know who to go to for their plastic surgery. Many of these procedures can be performed by different people. I have been telling people for years that I'm a board certified plastic surgeon, that's always been my special certification, and the biggest accomplishments I have made in my career.
TCSD: Thank you for your time today, Dr. Brundage.
Dr. B: Thank you!
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