Choose Your Doctor Not Your Laser
by Warren B. Seiler III, MD
April 5, 2016
Taylor Campbell for Seiler Skin
By Buffy York
Today is Dr. Seiler’s second post on The Style Gathering (see his first one here). After his last post I had friends stop me in the middle of Pilates, Target, the tennis court (I was just picking up a child goodness knows I don’t play), and various other places to tell me of their amazing experiences with Dr. Seiler. I also had readers and friends tell me they want to be better educated on lasers. So here you have it ladies. I am thrilled to have Dr. Seiler is back on the blog. This is a great and informative post and I am so excited to share his knowledge and expertise with you once again.
by Warren B. Seiler III, MD
Over the years, I’ve noticed potential patients feel pressured to first choose the procedure or laser treatment instead of deciding on the right physician and practice to diagnose, treat, and manage their skin concerns.
You shouldn’t have to diagnose yourself or decide on what treatments you need to get optimal results. However, you should choose the right cosmetic physician and practice. In this blog I will tell you why and how to do this. My future blogs will talk more about specific lasers and procedures.
What You Want in Your Cosmetic Doctor and Practice
a highly trained physician and staff that specialize in cosmetic laser procedures
Most people don’t know that just because a physician is board certified in dermatology, plastic surgery or another speciality doesn’t mean that physician has the necessary training to specialize in these procedures or supervise and train those under them to perform certain procedures.
You need to ask your physician what training they have had specific to the procedures they offer. This should include extensive education specific to each procedure, each different type of laser, and why to use one laser over another for each patient and their individual concerns and skin type. For example, certain lasers can be used on darker skin and others can’t. Your physician should know this and its a simple question you can ask them.
You should ask your physician or the person performing the procedure how many times they have performed the procedure, how many different types of patients and skin types they have treated, why they use one laser over another, how the laser works, how many problems or complications they have had and what they did to take care of those problems (remember that if a physician says he/she has never had even a small problem then they are either not being truthful or haven’t done enough procedures to have one yet!).
This sounds like a lot, but these questions and their answers will help you to know their level of knowledge and ability to safely and effectively treat you. I love it when a patient asks me questions because I know I can make them feel better about trusting me.
a full-time physician specialist
You want to trust your skin with someone who is highly specialized in these procedures and does this full-time.
You also want concierge-level service and 24-hour access to your physician and staff.
a physician and practice who can develop a long-term and comprehensive relationship with you
Patients who tend to hop from one place to another typically do so because they haven’t found the right physician and practice who can offer a comprehensive diagnosis, treatment and maintenance plan or who are limited in what procedures they offer to begin with. Although I don’t love the “one stop shop” analogy, that’s really what you want.
The practice should have all they need to treat your different concerns with state-of-the-art equipment (multiple different lasers and devices).
The physician should be able to refer you to physicians in other specialties to complement your treatment plan (allergists, hormone specialists, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, general medical doctors, and gynecologists). I believe that there is a limit to how many things I can do and really do them right.
Your comprehensive plan should include physician-directed medical grade skin care, laser procedures and other treatments to help you with all of your concerns. You also need a proper pre- and post-procedure skincare regimen to help you heal and achieve/maintain optimal results. This is just as important in my practice as the laser procedure itself.
a physician and staff who care to spend quality time with you
You want a physician and practice who spends plenty of time with you. A new patient consultation should take at least 30-60 minutes to properly diagnose and discuss your concerns and devise a treatment plan.
You should also have the opportunity (and be encouraged by your cosmetic physician) to engage in ongoing and follow-up consultations as your treatment plan develops and continues. You should always know what is next and right for you and have the opportunity to “reconsult” about “what’s next.”
great and safe results
Simply put, you want great results and to be safely treated. You want to have confidence in your treatment plan. You shouldn’t settle for average results or complications. You know what you deserve, and if you think you deserve better than what you are getting, maybe you should discuss that with your provider. Maybe you should seek out someone else to help you.
a medical law-compliant practice
There are state medical laws governing laser procedures. This includes who can do what, how much training the physician and staff must have, what procedures can be delegated to non-physicians and how much the physician has to be involved.
Some state laws are better/stricter than others but you can find this out by simply calling the state medical board or just asking your provider to educate you about how things should be done. If your provider can’t tell you about the law, then maybe they aren’t abiding by it.
As the Executive Director of the American Board of Laser Surgery, I have helped states strengthen laws regarding the use of lasers in a medical/cosmetic practice. Laws are getting stronger to protect patients but they are not always followed, so be careful.
You should feel comfortable with the plan
I say all the time that patients don’t ask enough questions. As a patient, you have a right to ask any question you want about the above topics.
You shouldn’t have to direct your own care. You wouldn’t feel right if you had to tell your general medicine doctor what blood pressure medicine you need or what tests he/she should order for you. You shouldn’t have to Google which laser treatment is best for you. If you find the right physician and practice, it should be easy for you to trust and feel comfortable getting treatments.
Thank you for reading! I hope this helps you to make the best decisions for your skin. My future blogs will discuss more about specific laser treatments.