Adding aesthetic or elective procedures appeals to many ophthalmologists for a variety of reasons, one expert says.
“Reimbursement obviously has been adjusted downward, regulations have been adjusted upward, the cost of doing business and time to run a business have been adjusted upward, so, there are a lot of variables that come into play if you’re an individual practice or even if you’re with a group or an employed physician,” said Philip R. Rizzuto, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and clinical professor of Surgery (Ophthalmology) at the Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University. He enjoys a practice that focuses completely on oculofacial plastic surgery. Fellowship trained in oculoplastic surgery, Dr. Rizzuto spends his days addressing patients’ functional problems and facial cosmetic concerns.
While offering aesthetic procedures might seem like a great way to avoid third-party payers, ophthalmologists shouldn’t and generally don’t, according to Dr. Rizzuto, do it for that reason.
Ophthalmologists have a foothold in aesthetic surgery and medicine, according to Dr. Rizzuto.
“They are uniquely and skillfully trained to understand and work with the anatomy around the eye and the face,” he says.
Ophthalmology is considered by some as one of the core specialties making up medical and surgical aesthetics.
“There are what we call core specialties that receive formal training during their residency or fellowship programs in facial aesthetics—in nonsurgical facial aesthetic treatments. Those are facial plastic surgery, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, dermatology and ophthalmology,” says American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) immediate past president Phillip R. Langsdon, M.D. “Out of those specialties—out of those fields that are trained in U.S. residency or fellowship programs—there are advanced training areas where people gain more training. That’s where the fellowships in facial plastic surgery, the fellowships in oculoplastic surgery, and in dermatology and in plastic surgery come in.”
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There are lots of opportunities for ophthalmologists to train in aesthetic procedures and techniques.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology doesn’t track how many U.S members offer cosmetic procedures, but it offers an array of options for ophthalmologists who want to train in aesthetic procedures at its annual meetings.
AAO also has a subspecialty dedicated to oculofacial plastic surgery.
Founded in 1969, ASOPRS has more than 650 U.S. members dedicated to facial rejuvenation and disorders of the eyelids, eye socket and tear drainage system. ASOPRS accredits more than 60 fellowship training programs, according to the Society’s website.
Ophthalmologists also make up 5% of the 1,600 members of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS), which represents physicians from plastic surgery, dermatology, general surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery, otolaryngology and other specialties who pursue educational and training in cosmetic surgery.
Ophthalmologists are increasingly contributing to the cosmetic surgery literature.
Plastic surgeon authors reported in a study published July/August 2016 in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal that non-plastic surgeons—otolaryngologists and ophthalmologists—are increasingly being published in peer reviewed journals on facial cosmetic surgery topics.1
1. Waltzman JT, Tadisina KK, Orra S, Elbey H. Who is Publishing in Facial Cosmetic Surgery? A Citation Analysis Across Specialties Over Five Decades. Aesthet Surg J. 2016;36(7):743-55.