As you’re reading this, I am coming up to 2 years with Plastic Surgery Products. In my first editor’s message, I described my first few weeks on the job as a learning experience. Indeed, in my second week, I attended The Aesthetic Meeting 2005 in pre-Katrina New Orleans, and that was the beginning of my plastic and reconstructive surgery education.

Now we are heading into The Aesthetic Meeting 2007, and I can say two things for certain: I have learned a lot, and I still have a great deal to learn. I think the industry has much to learn as well. (Can you call aesthetic medicine an industry? Or does that apply only to Buicks or widgets?)

But I digress. What is there for practitioners and their staff members, vendors, and service providers to learn? Let’s start with the current dichotomy between traditional aesthetic surgery and the emerging so-called noninvasive techniques. To me, this is the classical “less filling–tastes great” debate: On the “tastes great” side, we have the excellent results of full-fledged plastic surgery for facelifts, but there is a certain amount of discomfort and downtime and, of course, considerable expense to the patient. The “less filling” side is represented by injections, fillers, and energy-based skin treatments, which entail a lot less expense and aggravation for the patient, but may not give quite as pleasing results as a facelift and certainly must be repeated far more frequently.

Where does the learning come in? Basically, everyone in the field has to know enough about all of the techniques—and how they match up with patients’ indications, preferences, expectations, and budgets—to be able to come up with an appropriate treatment plan for everyone who walks through the door. I think this is one of the practitioner’s greatest challenges today.

Broadway Bound

As you read this, I hope you’re preparing to travel to The Aesthetic Meeting 2007 in New York City. If that’s the case, please stop by booth #520 to meet Bridget Blaney, PSP’s Advertising Director, and me. We look forward to seeing you there. —MJB

Another challenge occurred to me when I recently happened to hear the children’s ditty “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” Aesthetic plastic surgery is performed all over the body, but in some areas a lot more than others. The head, for example, gets plenty of attention, whereas the shoulders, knees, and toes are much less common targets for the scalpel, cannula, or needle. Not that they are unheard of by any means—if you Google any of these body parts in conjunction with plastic, aesthetic, or cosmetic surgery, you’ll get more hits than you can possibly check out.

What’s the challenge here? Learning how to perform as many procedures as you can so that you can bring patients in and keep them coming back. You don’t want to be a one-hit wonder, but the go-to person in your locale for as many procedures and services as you can possibly master.

Is there a danger of spreading yourself too thin? Or becoming a Jack (or Jill) of all trades and master of none? Yes, on both counts. But in this rapidly moving field, you need to be as versatile as possible to avoid being left behind if your tried-and-true procedure falls out of favor with the patient population. And that’s why we’re all going to The Aesthetic Meeting 2007.

Michael J. Block
[email protected]