Did you know there are nurse and doctor concierge and other VIP services that plastic surgeons in New York, Los Angeles, and other major cities offer their patients to recover comfortably and, in some cases, discreetly? Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Concierge Medicine?
Concierge doctors, otherwise known as retainer-based medicine or direct primary care, are private providers (physicians and nurses) who charge their patients an annual fee between $1,000 to $25,000 for more personalized service. Keep in mind that fee doesn't replace health insurance. Rather, patients pay that fee to the doctor and still keep their health insurance to cover tests, hospitalization, and other things health-related needs.
Concierge medicine generally comes with 24/7 access, a cell phone number to connect directly with the provider, same-day appointments, and visits that last as long as necessary (read: no racing in and out of exam rooms), among other amenities. The benefit for providers? The upfront fee, typically monthly, allows them to bring in more revenue per patient. Because of this, most concierge physicians can cap their patient base at around 300.
Concierge Medicine for Plastic Surgery Recovery
So, how does this impact aesthetic medicine? “Concierge services are super hot with high-end cosmetic surgery right now,” says Lisa Cassileth, MD, a board certified plastic and reconstructive and founder of Cassileth Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills. It’s not only about having a plastic surgery practice reachable by phone, she says. Instead, the value lies in having a concierge nurse appointed to follow your aftercare and see or contact you on a daily basis from the time of surgery onward. “This is your go-to person that is always available to you,” Dr. Cassileth shares.
Whether they are employed by the patient or coordinated through the plastic surgeon, concierge nurses will ensure all post-op recovery protocols are followed — from changing dressings to traveling to follow up appointments and everything in between. “The nurse changes their compresses, checks on the swelling, administers any medications that may be needed,” explains Jennifer Levine, MD, a double board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New York City. “They can also help the patient wash their hair and bathe or take them to their postoperative appointments.” Dr. Levine says many of her patients opt to have a private-duty nurse stay with them after the surgery.
The idea is to take all the guesswork out of the healing and recovery process, so patients can rest assured knowing they are well cared for. Dr. Cassileth notes that surgery can be overwhelming for patients, who don’t always know what’s normal and what’s not. “You can be told what to eat and what to do, similar to when you stay at a high end hotel,” she says. Her practice offers a concierge nurse, who provides one-on-one care and support.
Additional Concierge Care
Taking a nurse home with you after surgery isn’t the only form of bespoke care available. Ryan Neinstein, MD, a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon in NYC, says that patients having less access to the office has prompted his practice to offer more concierge options. “We are able to provide pre-operative testing at home with registered nursing, driver services with COVID-19 protocols, and at-home lymphatic drainage,” he explains. “These services not only allow our patients to have an enhanced result and experience but allows us to employ more people than we would have before to take care of more people within our community.”
At Dr. Levine’s practice, LED light therapy and/or laser services are offered to help with bruising and swelling. Post-op, she usually gives the concierge caregiver or the patient her cell phone number in case they need to reach her. Her protocol is to check on patients the night of surgery and the day after the procedure to make sure they are doing well and that they do not have any questions or concerns.
While concierge medicine can cover everything from primary care to plastic surgery on an ongoing basis, aesthetic patients can also opt for short-term support after a procedure or surgery. If this type of care is of interest to you, ask your plastic surgeon during the consultation and pre-op process what kind of nursing services or customized care they offer. It will come at an additional fee, but the peace of mind can be priceless. As Dr. Cassileth says, “to be able to have a fairy godmother-type nurse always available to you is a great feeling.”
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