By Tracy Shevlin | Photos by Robert Jinks
Once thought of as a Hollywood extravagance, cosmetic surgery has become more accessible than ever. With advancements in non-surgical and less invasive procedures, cosmetic surgery is a booming mainstream business. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Americans spent $12 billion on cosmetic surgery procedures in 2014.
This trend is also occurring close to home. With at least 15 cosmetic surgeons in the Northern Virginia area, Prince William Living spoke with Dr. George Bitar, a board certified plastic surgeon named a Top Doc by Washingtonian, with offices in both Fairfax and Manassas, to gain insight about this business and learn more about the Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute.
PWL: What should patients know or ask before choosing a cosmetic surgeon?
Bitar: Patients should take the time to learn about the risks and benefits regarding a specific procedure, and they should not be rushed into a decision. They should ensure that the surgeon is board certified and that they perform the procedure they are interested in on a routine basis. If it is not a common procedure for that doctor, they should choose another doctor who does the procedure on a routine basis. They should inquire whether the surgeon has hospital privileges, in case something should go wrong during the procedure.
PWL: Is your practice exclusive to women?
Bitar: No, absolutely not! Approximately 15 to 20 percent of our patients are men. We are mindful that our offices are decorated in a unisex fashion so that men feel comfortable, too. Many of the procedures we do are not specific to male or female patients. Of course, some procedures like breast augmentation or labiaplasty are gender specific, but most procedures and injectable treatments can be performed on men or women.
The most common surgical procedures for men include abdominal sculpting with liposuction, where we help men achieve six-pack abs, rhinoplasty for the nose, neck lift and gynecomastia, which is male breast reduction.
PWL: Does your practice take insurance?
Bitar: No, cosmetic surgery generally isn’t covered by insurance. However, we do partner with financing companies that offer low monthly payments.
PWL: Within the cosmetic surgery specialty, what sets your practice apart from others?
Bitar: Several things set us apart, including our training as cosmetic surgeons, the breadth of the services that we offer and our innovative techniques. Dr. Lickstein and I are both board certified plastic surgeons and served in two residency programs, one for general surgery and one for cosmetic surgery. We also have an extremely specialized staff. Not all practices can boast about that level of experience.
We also offer a comprehensive menu of surgical procedures and non-surgical treatments that allow our patients more options. Not all practices offer a full scope of services. This is important because a practice that does not offer a specific procedure, may offer the patient the next best thing among the ones available, which may or may not be what is best for the patient.
Lastly, we are continually evaluating our techniques to improve outcomes for our patients. For example, we use an underarm approach when we perform breast augmentation surgery. Through the use of innovative methods like the Kellar Funnel, we are able to place the implant in the breast without handling the implant, which greatly reduces the risk of infection. It also minimizes scarring and speeds healing because there is less bruising, no cutting of the muscle tissue and no loss of nipple sensation.
Bitar: There are a couple of reasons that we choose Fairfax Hospital. First, Fairfax Hospital is one of the top 50 hospitals in the country. Also, when we opened the practice in 2002, Fairfax Hospital had 75 plastic surgeons on staff there. What that meant to us was that Fairfax had the staff, equipment and skilled personnel to handle these procedures easily. In contrast, Prince William hospital did not have the right equipment or staff to accommodate us.
While the number of surgeons has increased over time and the facilities have improved in the Prince William area, we have developed a working relationship with the staff at Fairfax.
However, I should add that that 40 percent of our procedures can be done in our offices.
PWL: With such a specialized practice, how do you market your business?
Bitar: We market in multiple ways, including online and social media, community outreach and beauty clinics. Having a strong internet presence and a mobile-friendly site is most important because we have so much information available on our site, including before and after pictures and patient reviews.
Customer service is also a key component for our business because we often have repeat customers who return for new procedures as well as recommending us to their friends and family members.
PWL: We have heard that non-surgical treatments are very popular. Can you tell us about a few of them that you offer at the Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute?
Bitar: We offer many non-surgical skin and body enhancements and anti-aging skin care treatments that include the latest and most effective technologies and products available. We offer a variety of laser treatments, Coolsculpting for fat reduction and Ultherapy for skin tightening. Additionally, our two licensed medical aestheticians are on staff to perform facials, chemical peels, dermabrasion and micro needling.
For additional information on the Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute, please visit their webpage bitarinstitute.com.
Tracy Shevlin (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a native Virginian and long-time Manassas area resident. She is a graduate of George Mason University where she is also an office manager.