Dr. Shipchandler splits his time between reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgery at Indiana Health Physicians Facial Plastic Surgery & Skin Care.
Not all of the physicians practicing cosmetic medicine are completely outside of larger healthcare institutions. We got together with Dr. Taha Shipchandler to learn how he's juggles the cosmetic and reconstructive sides of this practice.
Name: Taha Z. Shipchandler, MD
Location: Indianapolis, IN
That's interesting: Dr. Shipchandler has performed over 27 facial reanimation surgeries on patients with facial paralysis- this is a surgical procedure no one else in the Midwest is currently performing. He also participates yearly in medical mission trips. He recently traveled to Eldoret, Kenya leading a team of surgeons on a facial plastic surgery trip. He preformed over 27 surgeries in 5 days operating on children with cleft lips and palates and resected a large parotid gland tumor providing all the reconstruction. He also travels yearly to Guatemala with a team of surgeons from Johns Hopkins.
How did you build a career that offers personal satisfaction and business growth?
What interests and challenges me most about medicine is the idea of combining highly technical skills with an aspect of creativity and art to achieve results that are both functionally and visually appealing. This idea is the foundation for my interest in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. I remember rebuilding a patient’s nose who suffered from a saddle nose from Wegener’s disease—this was both technically and aesthetically challenging.
I get great satisfaction in knowing that I help patients feel better about themselves as well as helping them breathe, swallow or speak better if I perform a reconstructive procedure. When I was training at Johns Hopkins, I learned all aspects of facial cosmetic and reconstructive medicine and surgery. I now have mirrored my practice based on my breadth of interests including a large amount of complex cosmetic and reconstructive rhinoplasty, facelifts and eyelid surgery as well as cancer reconstruction. I feel that if I focus on what I enjoy the most and analyze my own outcomes, I can excel further and get results and outcomes beyond what is originally thought possible for patients.
Tell us more about your practice.
My practice: “IU Health Physicians Facial Plastic Surgery & Skin Care” has one patient coordinator and one nurse/practice coordinator. Primarily, to keep costs down, my patient coordinator and nurse/practice coordinator manage all of the day-to-day aspects of the practice including scheduling patients, surgeries, post-operative care management, check-in and check-out, as well as practice building activities. We have the latest technology including Vectra 3M 3-dimensional imaging systems for showing our cosmetic patients their projected results before surgery. We also have a photo studio, two exam rooms, and a consult room. We are located on the first floor of a 2 story medical office building on Meridian Street. Walk-ins are welcome. Our patient population is varied from Medicare and Medicaid to cosmetic patients paying out-of-pocket. We offer all cosmetic and reconstructive surgical and medical services of the face head and neck including, fillers, Botox, chemical peels, skin care and detailed facial analysis for cosmetic surgical consultation.
What's your recruitment and profit sharing plan?
I hire my staff based on their interest and commitment. If my staff does not feel vested into the practice then they will not want to perform to the best of their ability. If my staff excels in something, I may give them a gift card or take them to dinner. Whatever it is, I try to make us a group working together rather than individuals performing separate tasks. In addition, my staff and our practice pride themselves on customer service. We are fortunate to have received amongst the highest patient satisfaction scores in our organization. I believe fun and hard work go hand-in-hand thus we try and make work fun.
Do you offer laser treatments? What products and services do you like?
I currently defer lasers to another physician. I have found focusing on fewer things but doing more of them and doing them better generates more referrals and confidence and leads to better results. In addition, referring to someone else for lasers, generates more referrals from that physician for surgical treatment plans. I like light chemical peels, and we carry two excellent skin care systems that work very well. We do have the latest in cosmetic imaging technology which patients find very helpful.
How do you drive patients into your clinic?
Most of our marketing is low-cost and affordable. Social media via Facebook is easy and inexpensive and works well for us for keeping our current patient base informed. Otherwise, our webpage has generated several referrals and provided patients with confidence since they are able to access my publications from the webpage as well. Magazine ads and newspaper ads work well. We have found mailers to not be very effective, but this is difficult to track.
What treatments or services are most profitable for you?
Surgical procedures are the most profitable. That being said, I recommend against surgical procedures for many patients if it is not appropriate for them. I feel that if we do the best job we can for patients, even if that means offering non-profitable treatments, this will pay off in the end. Soon I would like to add an aesthetician to our practice to help patients with skin care. In the end, however, I believe patients want to speak with their doctor, so I spend a lot of time with every patients.
Can you share interesting stories of patients?
I always think it is remarkable when women get cosmetic procedures done and their significant other may be less than enthusiastic about it. Without fail, several weeks to months later, the significant other calls our office and sets up and appointment or cosmetic procedure for themselves. They always say something like, “You made my wife look really good. I’ve got to keep up with her!”
What advice would you give to medical students who are choosing their area of specialization?
I truly believe that doctors should practice what they enjoy and in what they have the most expertise. Someone who says they are an expert in areas all over the body, likely is not. This is why I just specialize on the face. I enjoy operating on the face and analyzing the individual contours of facial movements and shadows. By treating what I enjoy the most, I not only get better at the treatments, but I am able to learn more to the point of publishing information for others to read in our national literature so that they may benefit. It is our duty to improve medicine for the future.
About: My training in Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery was at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. Prior to that I completed my residency in Otolaryngology at Cleveland Clinic and completed medical school with honors (Alpha Omega Alpha) at Indiana University School of Medicine.
My practice today consists primarily of cosmetic surgery as well as all reconstructive procedures of the face, head and neck. I am an active member of the American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. By focusing on one part of the body, i.e. the face, I feel I can offer patients the best, most up-to-date treatments available, and conduct studies to further all of our knowledge about the face, head and neck. My goal is not only to follow the standard of care but to be on the forefront of creating the standard of care for my patients.
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.