Patient Education for Invasive and Noninvasive Treatments
Dr. Gregory Buford, MD-FACS, trains his staff to go into the details.
For Denver-based plastic surgeon Dr. Gregory Buford, MD-FACS, the ever-changing world of Medical Aesthetics makes it an exciting field to work in.
“What's neat is it's always challenging. There's never a dull moment; every case is a little bit different; every patient is a little bit different. Medical Aesthetics really keeps you on your toes.”
Finding his way to Medical Aesthetics.
Dr. Buford knew from the age of 4 that he wanted to be a doctor, and from then on, he focused on developing his career in medicine. He did not know what type of medicine he wanted to pursue until he was exposed to plastic surgery during his residency. A lifelong art lover and collector—but a scientist at heart—Medical Aesthetics combined his passions for medicine and creativity.
Medical Aesthetics also appeals to Dr. Buford because of its dynamic nature. “You have to understand aesthetics from a global perspective because patients come from all over the world with different ethnicities and different goals.”
How he established a niche in breast treatments.
“When you go into medicine, there are a variety of procedures that you can perform,” he says, “and you eventually figure out what you like to do and what you’re good at.” For Dr. Buford, what drew him to breast treatments was the patient population he was most interested in working with, “characteristically young moms in their mid-30s and 40s.”
“On top of having a passion for breast surgery, and being pretty good at it, the patients are so much fun,” he explains. “They're looking at breast restoration as the means to claim back what they once had, and they usually have realistic goals.”
Dr. Buford has published three books, one of which is all about breast treatments. Instead of writing it for the medical community, his book is intended for patients. It provides them with a history of breast surgeries, different types of implants, sections on potential complications, and a list of questions to bring to their provider when they are considering breast surgery. “This allows patients to be better educated and better prepared when they go in for a consultation. And, the better prepared they are during the journey, the smoother that journey will likely be for them,” he says.
He gives all of his patients who are undergoing breast surgery a copy of the book, but his commitment to patient education goes much deeper.
Devotion to patient education for invasive and noninvasive treatments.
When it comes to the patient experience, Dr. Buford and his staff take a very systematic approach, breaking down the information step by step. “If I’m talking about facial aging, I go over the upper, middle, and lower thirds, and I do it in a very regimented manner. I don’t dumb down the information, but I filter it in a way that the patient can embrace the information and not feel intimidated,” he says.
When it comes to patient education for invasive versus noninvasive treatments, Dr. Buford emphasizes the importance of going into further detail for more complex treatments and making sure to discuss potential risks and complications at length.
Dr. Buford also uses social media as a resource for patient education and literacy. He will often demystify common myths within the Medical Aesthetics industry about various procedures and treatments to try to help his patients have realistic expectations and know when to reach out if complications arise.
“An educated patient is your best patient,” he explains.
“The more literate a patient is, the more satisfied they tend to be because it often comes down to expectations. An educated patient will better understand what treatments can and cannot achieve.”
In addition to providing thorough patient education, Dr. Buford encourages his entire staff to adopt a human approach, build a personal relationship with patients, and find commonalities. “The more you can identify with your patients, the less of a pedestal you’ll be put on, and the more comfortable they’ll feel,” he says. “The more comfortable the patient feels, the more likely they’ll have a positive experience.”
Those commonalities are important for Dr. Buford to find when he is hiring team members.
Creating a highly engaged culture at the practice.
“When someone asks me, ‘Who is the most important person on your staff?’, my answer is always ‘everybody,’” Dr. Buford says. He works hard to create a team where everyone is pulling their weight and willing to pitch in to help one another. He looks for candidates who have a good personality fit with his team, and he encourages career growth.
“My goal is that you outgrow your position. I’m looking for someone who is truly engaged in our mission to provide the best experience possible, who understands where I’m trying to bring the practice and wants to contribute,” he explains. Dr. Buford values staff members who bring suggestions and solutions, and who aren’t satisfied with just being good at their jobs.
“There’s a saying that ‘the worst employee is a good employee.’ A good employee won’t challenge you or bring innovation to the practice, and if they don’t grow, the practice won’t grow,” he says.
In fact, Dr. Buford started his own training center, not only to pass on his knowledge but also to learn new things himself. “At a recent training, I picked up several things from the trainees. I told them I was probably learning as much from them as they were from me. It’s one of the great things about training others. Not just that I get to pass on what I know, but that I get to learn, too.”
The most important word in Medical Aesthetics.
“A mentor of mine once told me the most important word in Medical Aesthetics is ‘no.’ It’s often, unfortunately, the least used word,” Dr. Buford explains. “Saying ‘no’ is one of the most important things you can say to a patient.”
His practice emphasizes patient satisfaction, and part of that is knowing when a patient is asking for a procedure that might not be the right one for them. Rather than just saying ‘yes’ to whatever the patient requests, Dr. Buford and his staff want their patients to feel wisely cared for, and part of that is exercising good judgment.
His advice for anyone starting out.
The spirit of growth and opportunity is embodied in Dr. Buford’s advice for aspiring Medical Aesthetics practitioners. “For anyone wanting to enter this industry, ask yourself what you can contribute to the culture and how you can make it better.”
About Dr. Gregory Buford, MD-FACS
Dr. Gregory Buford, a board-certified plastic surgeon based in Denver, Colorado, specializes in noninvasive and aesthetic plastic surgery procedures. As an experienced authority in the area of primary as well as secondary breast revision surgery, Dr. Buford has performed more than 4000 breast-related procedures over his career and has worked with patients from all over the world. He is a graduate of the Baker/Stuzin/Baker Cosmetic Surgery Fellowship in Miami. Dr. Buford also holds higher degrees from the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and the University of California, San Diego. In 2006, the Consumers’ Research Council of America named him one of “America’s Top Surgeons.”