What’s it like at a Plastic Surgery Meeting?

This weekend I’m traveling to San Diego for the national meeting of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS). This is a yearly event that moves around the country and this year I’m fortunate to have the meeting relatively close to home (as opposed to New York where I recently attended another meeting.)   These meetings are somewhat routine for physicians such as myself who have been attending similar meetings for more years than I can remember, but it occurs to me that for patients, this may be something of a black box mystery- what do plastic surgeons do when they get together?

My agenda for the following few days is an bit hectic. I’m currently on the train heading South, to arrive in time for a dinner meeting tonight with the leadership of TouchMD, the program that we use for patient education both in and outside of our office. TouchMD as you may know allows plastic surgery patients to view before and after photos from various plastic surgery procedures, and additionally allows patients to relive their consultation with photos and other resources saved from their visit to my office. Breast implant patients are able to view their photos and help direct their expectations using this great software suite.

Tomorrow is an exciting day, where I’m attending a day long session called “Hot Topics.” This session involves discussions of leading edge procedures and technologies involving procedures from breast augmentation to face lifting to fat reduction with devices such as CoolSculpting. The things we will talk about tomorrow will shape the future of plastic surgery over the next 10 years and this is frequently my favorite part of the meeting. Tomorrow night is my only free night and I’m looking forward to getting together with some plastic surgery friends to catch up and have a bite to eat.

Saturday is the official start of the meeting and the beginning of various sessions encompassing clinical education of different types. Three halls at the convention center will be going on all day, and we are supplied with a schedule prior to the meeting so we can plan our days appropriately. My schedule as planned stars at 7:30 in the morning with a talk about 50 Years of Facelifting, followed by Predictability in Breast Augmentation, then Neck Rejuvenation and then 50 years of Body Contouring. If it’s not obvious, this is the 50 year anniversary of ASAPS so that is a recurring theme. Also tomorrow will be a talk about Nonsurgical Additions to a plastic surgery practice that will likely involve discussions of the less invasive modalities we offer such as CoolSculpting, Ultherapy, Clear+Brilliant and such.

Saturday night is another working dinner with the advisory board of Mentor, the global leader in breast implants and the company that makes most of the implants that I use at Montecito Plastic Surgery in Santa Barbara. My work with Mentor breast implants dates back about 20 years and I really enjoy my involvement in helping develop new breast implant technologies. Dinner that night will include a few other pioneers in breast implant technology who I count as friends, and so this dinner promises to be both fun and productive.

Sunday is another packed day beginning at 7:50 am and much of that day includes discussions of how we as plastic surgeons can make the process of having a plastic surgery consultation easier and more enjoyable from a patient standpoint. With the advances in social media and online education, I am planning on attending several sessions discussing the role of the internet in patient education and how technology is playing an increasing role in followup and plastic surgery education. Many of you reading this are familiar with Real Self, and I have a meeting with them on Sunday afternoon to shoot some educational videos- alway fun and interesting.

Another function of these types of meetings is the ability to take courses and learn how other plastic surgeons in other parts of the world are doing things. The procedures for gluteal augmentation (buttock augmentation) largely came from South America, and on Sunday afternoon I’m looking forward to hearing from some Brazilian plastic surgeons about how buttock augmentation has evolved in South America and the current status of that procedure there. This is a dedicated several hour course like many other options that surgeons can attend. Less experienced surgeons may use courses like this to learn about breast augmentation or face lifts, or even learn things such as the best way to hire staff or build your own operating room.

Sunday night… dinner again and this time with the leadership of Ideal Breast Implants- the structured saline implant that I have been using for patients who prefer using a saline filled implant that feels more like silicone than the classic saline implants many surgeons use. My plan at this meeting is to discuss further with them the potential development of different profiles for these implants so patients of different shapes and sizes can take advantage of this unique breast implant option that we offer.

Monday is the home stretch… by this time I will have a pretty significant itch to see my wife and children again and I will likely be looking forward to getting back to Santa Barbara. I’m scheduled to attend a few sessions on abdominoplasty prior to hopping back on the train for the 6 hour ride home. Still a huge advantage for those of us who would rather stick hot pokers in our eyes rather than drive through Los Angeles, and more opportunity to write blogs and reflect on the meeting as a whole. I’m looking forward to a fun weekend of plastic surgery theory and discussion, but really looking forward to getting back to my operating room on Tuesday morning!

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