By David J. Archibald, MD FACS
Wilbur and Orville Wright. Watson and Crick. Lennon and McCartney. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. History is full of examples of collaboration that have changed the world for the better. Unfortunately, the delivery of health care is often far from collaborative. Too often, the time and energy of coordinating doctor visits and relaying information falls on the patient and/or members of their family. This process can be burdensome as the patient tries to navigate a very complex and confusing healthcare system.
The Mayo Clinic: A Union of Forces
I was fortunate to have a front row seat in observing the pinnacle of physician collaboration for the good of the patient while a medical student and then a surgery resident at the Mayo Clinic. I will forever treasure the excellent medical and surgical training I received during my nearly 10 years associated with my mentors there, but the greatest influence on my care of patients has been the legacy of putting the needs of the patient first.
It was Dr. William Mayo that so eloquently stated: “The best interest of the patient is the only interest to be considered, and in order that the sick may have the benefit of advancing knowledge, union of forces is necessary. It has become necessary to develop medicine as a cooperative science; the clinician, the specialist, and the laboratory workers uniting for the good of the patient, each assisting in elucidation of the problem at hand, and each dependent upon the other for support.”
Skin Cancer and Collaboration
Nothing illustrates the importance of a “union of forces” for the good of the patient better than the treatment of skin cancer. One in five Americans will develop some type of skin cancer over the course of their lifetimes. With early detection and treatment, however, most skin cancers are completely curable. Mohs surgery is considered the most effective technique for treating the two most common types of skin cancer, and Vanguard has three fellowship trained Mohs surgeons. The procedure is done in stages, including lab work, while the patient waits. This allows the removal of all cancerous cells for the highest cure rate (98%) while sparing healthy tissue and leaving the smallest possible scar.
Plastic Surgery for Our Skin Cancer Patients
Mohs surgery is very precise, leaves less scarring, is quick and efficient, and has a high success rate. However, like any cancer treatment, Mohs surgery can sometimes damage the function or appearance of a part of the body. Reconstructive plastic surgery can help repair those changes. My ultimate goal with all my patients is to restore balance and harmony of the face, and to re-create function and beauty in an area where it has been lost or compromised. It is the sine qua non in the art of aesthetic and reconstructive surgery.
Under One Roof
Vanguard Skin Specialist’s focus on patient needs and collaboration creates a unique environment that is not present in most medical practices. There is a culture that attracts teamwork-focused physicians and providers and then executes on that promise to our patients. Perhaps the greatest example of this collaboration has been providing Mohs surgery with plastic surgery services under one roof, both pulling the same oar for the good of the patient. The benefits include a wider range of closure techniques, two sets of surgeon’s hands working together for the best outcome, increased efficiency, and the ability to perform more complex reconstructive procedures, when needed, in the operating room for patient comfort.
Will My Insurance Cover This?
Naturally, one of the most common questions patients have is: “Will my insurance cover the cost of plastic surgery after my Mohs procedure?”
While “plastic surgery” might make patients think of nose jobs and reality TV stars, this specialty has always played an integral role in effective cancer care. When plastic surgery is done for a medical reason, such as reconstruction after skin cancer surgery, insurance companies will typically pay for these services.
Walking with You
Working side by side with talented Mohs surgeons (Dr. Vinh Chung and Dr. Renata Prado) has provided me with the opportunity to enhance the lives of thousands of patients by restoring what cancer has taken from them and returning a sense of normalcy. In many instances I am able to sit in consultation with the patient to discuss the reconstructive part of their care a couple of weeks before their cancer surgery to answer any questions or concerns. This is the beginning of a long-term relationship that I treasure with my patients as I then walk alongside them during their postoperative course. This care also includes providing scar management strategies to help them return back to their lives as quickly as possible.
As a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon I have the privilege to take care of such an intimate part of people’s bodies, their faces. People’s faces are their calling cards to the world.
For me, facial aesthetic and reconstructive surgery are inseparable. It is very important to me that my patients both look and feel their best. If I was to equate one single word with beauty, it would be confidence. Above and beyond all the physical parameters, measurements, and definitions that we can apply to physical beauty itself, it all comes down to this: those patients who walk into—or out of—our offices feeling more self-confident than ever before are resonating the meaning of true beauty.
Dr. David Archibald is a highly specialized facial plastic surgeon who is surgically trained exclusively on the face, head and neck. He takes care of patients in the Vanguard Briargate office and operates at Centura in Castle Rock. He is part of Vanguard’s plastic surgery team which also includes Dr. James Banich.
Read more about Dr. Archibald here.