Liposuction, exercise, and nutrition = good outcomes

Illinois surgeon offers formal follow-up program

With more than 450,000 procedures performed in 2005,1 liposuction remains the most frequently chosen cosmetic procedure in the United States. With this many patients looking for a surgeon and with the number of surgeons from whom they can choose, it is important to find a way to differentiate your liposuction services from others.

The Lipo Lifestyle Program, developed and introduced in his Chicago-area practice by Edward Lack, MD, formalizes the advice given by many surgeons to patients who elect to undergo liposuction procedures. "I have always stressed the importance of nutrition and exercise to achieve the maximum benefit of liposuction," he says. "In the past 10 years, I've noticed that there is a significant difference in outcomes between patients who do follow surgery with regular exercise and good nutrition and the outcomes of patients who don't follow a regular exercise program."

After years of recommending exercise and offering nutrition advice to patients, Lack developed a formal program that combines the surgery with follow-up care designed to ensure the best results. Patients who undergo liposuction with him receive a package of eight sessions with a trainer to be used for the first month following surgery and a complimentary visit with a nutritional counselor. "There is no extra charge for these items, but we emphasize that regular exercise will improve the results of their surgery," says Lack.

"I also have my patients walk four miles each day beginning the day after surgery and lasting a minimum of 30 days," he says. "Not only does this get the patient started on a program of exercise to keep them fit, but it also reduces the amount of pain medication they need following surgery." Lack does allow patients to break up the four-mile daily walking distance into two walks.

The nutritionist and trainer that are part of the Lipo Lifestyle Program are two people Lack found as he was recovering from pancreatic cancer. "Both nutrition and exercise were important to my recovery, and I saw that my liposuction patients would benefit from professional advice in these areas," he explains.

Lifestyle programs are common in bariatric surgery practices, but Lack is not aware of another program geared toward liposuction patients. "If a physician does want to begin such a program, I'd suggest starting on an informal basis to make sure you are comfortable with recommending exercise the day after surgery," he suggests. It also is important to choose the other members of your team carefully, Lack adds.

Valerie Rivelli, business manager for Lack's practice, says, "The people you select as your trainer and nutritionist have to present the same message that you are presenting to your patients." Make sure you screen them carefully and that they have several years of experience, she suggests. The experience requirement for the Chicago program is a minimum of 10 years to ensure that they have experience working with a lot of different people and that they have developed a good reputation in their fields, Rivelli says. Staying up-to-date on the latest in their fields and being comfortable working with all types of patients also are important to look for in your team members, she adds.

Space & coordinator needed for success

Once you've found a nutritionist, you need a room for the consultation, Rivelli says.

Currently, the nutritionist doesn't have a set schedule, she says. Instead, she comes in when she's scheduled to see a patient, Rivelli says. The surgery office coordinates the patient's schedule and the nutritionist's schedule to arrange the consultation. "When we have more patients in the program, we will look at specific days for the nutritionist to be in the office," Rivelli explains.

Patients go to the gym where the trainer works for the exercise part of the program, she adds.

You also need to designate a program coordinator to oversee the management, scheduling, and marketing of the program, suggests Rivelli. At this time, the coordinator's position is incorporated into another staff person's job, but as the program grows, it may require a full-time person.

In terms of marketing, they use direct mail, community presentations, and fliers distributed through the office, says Rivelli. "At this time, the new patients we are seeing heard about us through other patients," she points out.

Know your competitor's price

Because liposuction is an elective procedure for which patients pay from their own pockets, it is important to make sure that your package pricing is not higher than your competitor's pricing for liposuction only, warns Rivelli. "We negotiated fees with the trainer and nutritionist that we pay out of the price we charge the patient," she explains. "We see it as an important part of offering a service to the patient and believe that it will benefit the program in the long run."

The most important part of putting a lifestyle program in place is educating your staff members, says Lack. Not only do they need to know about the program, but also staff members and the surgeon need to be involved in maintaining their own healthy lifestyles, he says. "A surgeon's advice to a patient to exercise and eat well sounds very hollow if it is obvious that the surgeon doesn't follow that advice," he points out.

The knowledge of all staff members is also critical, adds Rivelli. "A patient may be walking down the hall after talking with the surgeon and even if they asked questions during their discussion with the doctor, they will still ask staff members if the program really works," she says. Patients will ask how it works, if it will cost more, and if it really makes a difference in outcomes, Rivelli explains. "Staff members need to be familiar with the program to be able to answer confidently and reassure the patient."

With no other cosmetic surgeon offering the combination of liposuction and a lifestyle program, Lack is seeing patients who choose his practice because of the package. Rivelli says, "They want the best outcomes and believe that this will help them."

Reference

  1. 2005 Cosmetic Surgery National Data Bank Statistics. American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Los Alamitos, CA; 2005.

Source

For more information about the Lipo Lifestyle Program, contact:

  • Edward Lack, MD, MetropolitanMD, 2350 Ravine Way, Suite 400, Glenview, IL 60025. Telephone: (847) 832-6700. Web: www.metropolitanmds.com.