Dr. Michael Brown's practice includes three offices across Virginia and Maryland.
Name: Michael J. Brown MD
Clinic: The Loudoun Center for Plastic Surgery
Locations: Ashburn & Richmond VA, Bethesda MD
About: Dr. Michael J. Brown has been voted a Top Plastic Surgeon in Virginia and Top Doctors in Virginia by Northern Virginia Magazine and Best Cosmetic Surgeon in Virginia by Virginia Living Magazine in 2012. Dr. Brown has also served on the editorial board of a cosmetic surgery magazine. He is an active committee member for the The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
As a clinic that is primarily focused on plastic surgery but offers nonsurgical treatments, how is your clinic organized?
The Center is organized with 4 components. There is the medical office that's devoted to plastic surgery. The Center has a nurse who is trained and provides assistance with injectable treatments like Botox, Restylane, Juvederm, Dysport, etc. She is busy providing care to these patients and assists with the medical aesthetician services as well. The Center has a licensed, certified Master Aesthetician. Her patients/clients are coming for medical skin care evaluations and treatments. She performs primarily medical effective treatments. The Center does not perform ineffective facials for relaxation. She is usually prescription based treatments directly under the supervision of the Medical Director. She also uses lasers for facial veins, pigmentation and laser facelifts. The Center also has the most effective lasers for laser hair removal. The fourth component of the Center is a certified surgical facility. The center meets very strict guidelines and inspections equivalent to hospital standards. So having all 4 components in one setting is a unique and valuable experience.
How do you compensate your staff? What made you decide to use the compensation plan that you’re currently using?
The employees are salaried. This avoids the need or desire to try and push sales. This is not an adversarial environment. In past arrangements, I have found commission based employees are more aggressive. It may be better for the employer but not for the client. The hard part about the current arrangement is that you have to really find the right people who understand the concierge type environment of a ‘Ritz’. With the right people, this works better for the clients and patients. So when a staff member recommends a product, they know it is for their best interests, not ours.
You've got a website which primarily contains videos on certain procedures. You seem to be comfortable with Youtube and reaching out to patients online. How much of your marketing efforts are now online? Are you seeing successes? Are there marketing efforts that you've found to be better than others?
I market using internal marketing techniques, word of mouth and the internet. The internet sector has changed in 2012 thanks to Google trying to monetize their search engine. The organic listings are constantly changing and Google is trying to make everyone use their Pay Per Click model. Therefore, we have less organic traffic coming in and essentially are being forced to use the PPC side of Google.
Where do you think that 'marketing' should fit in a practice? Have you seen any marketing that you would consider to be "unethical" in some way?
There is a tremendous amount of unethical advertising in the ‘medi-spa’ environment in my local region. I would imagine it is going on everywhere, especially as the economy continues to contract. Advertising specials and discounts and claiming equal qualifications of the treating staff. There are nurses treating patients without medical supervision. These are nurses who are essentially in private practice acting as physicians. They are treating patients at discount rates. When there is a pseudo medical director, that physician is getting kick backs or referrals as the basis for allowing the nurses to order medications under their license. I have personally had these types of clinics call on me and offer me the opportunity because the nurses are dissatisfied with the surgical results ‘their patients’ are getting from the unethical physician providers. I have declined. There are also medical spas run as franchises. The medical directory can be any type of doctor. I have seen ER doctors, OB/GYNs, ENTs, dentists, oral surgeons, dermatologists and family practitioners claim to be ‘board certified’, yet they fail to mention by who or they use a non-recognized board as their ‘qualification’. Recently in Maryland, there was a surgical death secondary to this type of franchise experience.
You’re using Titan, IPL and Fraxel Laser in your clinic. How did you decide on that technology and what did you compare it with? What completed your buying decision?
We perform many non-invasive treatments (lasers, peels, etc), as well as injectable, non-surgical treatments. I have no stock or interests in any equipment. These are all top of line lasers. They are the best in what they do. It is that simple.
What has been your experience with your technology companies?
Every day I get an email by the next latest and greatest piece of technology. I seldom jump into these types of opportunity. Science and time ultimately prove what works. Most of these companies will be gone in a year or two. The problem I see is that when a ‘medical spa’ jumps in, they will try and sell it to everyone who comes in the door. They have to do this because they are over extended and have to make the payments on the equipment. So whether someone needs it or not, it will be promoted and recommended to them. In the plastic surgeon side of the Center, I get to see the complications of this type of treatment and promotions.
Are they any new technologies that you think are especially promising? Do you have any procedures that you like better than others?
The breast implants are getting better and better. There is a new saline implant coming out soon that will feel like a silicone gel without the worry of silicone gel. As for lasers, they are always changing technology. The companies are being bought and sold. So when I see this, it means there is some smoke around the technology.
What do you think that you do better than most other physicians that helps you to succeed?
We are committed to the entire experience of our patients or clients. Ultimately though, it is my treating staff, patient coordinators and my surgical talents that separate us.
What's the best business advice you've ever received?
Treat people the way you like to be treated.
What's the best advice you've ever received as a physician?
Treat people the way you like to be treated.
About: Dr. Michael J. Brown is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Northern Virginia . His plastic surgery certification is from The American Board of Plastic Surgery, Inc. He completed his plastic surgery residency at the Brown University Integrated Program In Plastic Surgery , in Providence, Rhode Island, at the Rhode Island Hospital. Dr. Michael J. Brown, was invited into that plastic surgery program taking an accelerated track position while a general surgery resident. His general surgery prerequisite training experiences were also at the Brown University School of Medicine's affiliate hospitals, Harvard University Medical School's affiliate hospitals, and the University of Texas Medical School's affiliate hospitals. He attended and graduated from medical school at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
Dr. Michael J. Brown is an active member of The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), The National Capital Society of Plastic Surgeons (NCSPS), The Virginia Society of Plastic Surgeons , and The Medical Society of Virginia. He has been elected by the local plastic surgeons of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC to the Executive Board of The National Capital Society of Plastic Surgeons and served as the President of that society. Dr. Michael J. Brown is also a recipient of the American Medical Association's Physician's Recognition Award. He has been listed as one of the Top Plastic Surgeons in US every year since 1996 by the Consumer Research Council.
This interview is part of a series of interviews of physicians running medical spas, laser clinics and cosmetic surgery centers. If you'd like to be interviewed, just contact us.