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Recon to Retail Surgery – with Bradford Bader, MD (Ep.161)

Hello, and welcome to Beauty and the Biz where we talk about the business and marketing side of plastic surgery and how Bradford Bader, MD went from recon to retail surgery patients.

I’m your host, Catherine Maley, author of Your Aesthetic Practice – What your patients, are saying as well as consultant to plastic surgeons, to get them more patients and more profits. Now, today’s episode is called “Recon to Retail Surgery – with Bradford Bader, MD”.

A new surgeon coming out of fellowship will oftentimes do anything and everything to perform more surgery to hone their craft. 

So, they do call at nearby hospitals, take recon cases referred by other surgeons, and/or contract with other practices to handle their overflow.

They need that experience to figure out what they really want to do….and NOT do. 

Dr. Bradford Bader had been on his own journey and is now very satisfied with where he is going, but it wasn’t a straight line (it never is).

This week’s Beauty and the Biz Podcast is the interview I did with Bradford Bader, MD, a facial plastic surgeon running his own private practice in Plano, TX.

He talks about his journey from 95% reconstructive to 95% aesthetic retail surgery patients and how he had to think and act to make that shift.

⬇️ Click below to hear “Recon to Retail Surgery – with Bradford Bader, MD”

Dr. Bader also talked about:

  • How important location is to be visible and accessible to the patients you want to attract
  • How culture plays a big part in his success (now that he understands what that means)
  • How his amazing shoe collection helps build his brand
  • A radical new approach to building a practice with smaller staff and office but bigger profits and much more….

I love hearing how the younger surgeons are making their way through the challenges of staffing, marketing and competing in today’s marketplace and you will too.


Recon to Retail Surgery – with Bradford Bader, MD

Catherine Maley, MBA: Welcome everybody to Beauty and the Biz where we talk about the business and marketing side of plastic surgery and how Bradford Bader, MD went from recon to retail surgery.

I’m your host, Catherine Maley, author of Your Aesthetic Practice – What your patients are saying, as well as consultant to plastic surgeons to get them more patients and more profits.

Now today’s guest is Dr. Brad Bader. He’s a board-certified facial cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon running a private practice in Plano, TX. Now, before he went from recon to retail surgery, Dr. Bader attended medical school at the university of Texas Houston Medical School, where he presented the Eugene D. Jacobs award for outstanding scholastic achievement. And he was elected to the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha honor society during his junior year.

Then he completed his residency of the university of Michigan and he’s presented his research at international meetings and recognized with the Merle Lawrence Research Award and the Rontal Family Research Award. Now Dr. Bader completed his fellowship at The Ohio State University and he lectured and trained medical students and residents as a Clinical Associate Professor of Otolaryngology. He’s happily married with three wonderful children.

And if you saw him, you wouldn’t believe he has like teenage kids. Dr. Bayer, welcome to Beauty and the Biz it is a pleasure to have you.

Bradford Bader, MD: Thanks for having me on.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Absolutely. So, let’s just start with, just describe your practice and how did you end up in Plano and how did you go from recon to retail surgery?

Bradford Bader, MD: So, Plano was a suburb just north of the Dallas Metro area.

And this is where I was born and raised, was in the Dallas area. So, it’s, it’s a good place to work and live. So, I, I kind of always had the idea that I returned back home eventually. I did by medical school, residency fellowship, just the way you described and like most people. Didn’t have a great idea of exactly what I wanted to do.

Perhaps going to academics, perhaps private practice ended up starting a private practice in 2010 while I learned. I was solo from, from day one. That was a little scary, but We, we kind knew this is where we wanted to be in terms of the location. So, I felt comfortable taking a risk and starting to practice. Even if I got the initial iteration of my practice wrong, I knew I’d still be in an area that, that we enjoyed living.

So that’s how we ended up back here. I started out with two employees. I shared some employee’s expenses. Call responsibilities with an established ENT practice in town. And I was on staff at a hospital. I did call two weeks of, of every month. So, it was 11 one trauma center. So, I did pretty much everything and anything when I very first started my practice much of which was not at all what I do currently in my practice.

Catherine Maley, MBA: But how did you ramp up, when you first hang out your shingle when you first started going from recon to retail surgery. You know, in the old days, it used to take like 10 years to develop a practice so it could live on its own in this market. And did you specialize in cosmetic right away? Was it recon? Like how did all that work when you were transitioning from recon to retail surgery?

Bradford Bader, MD: So, no there was no strategy. I think that was a great mistake. I, I think it’s hard to know exactly what you want when you first start out. A lot of people have an idea, maybe what they want their practice to be what they want to focus on.

And I think most of us are wrong. I think that as time goes on and your, your focus becomes a little clearer on what you want out of your practice. Now, your life things change. I think very few people. Have a practice today that has a whole lot of resemblance to the practice when they first started my practice, when they first started, I was doing everything from head and neck cancer, resections and reconstruction.

I did a lot of facial trauma. I did a lot of skin cancer reconstruction, facial reanimation, much more reconstructive focused practice. And out of that, I sort of at least had the financial stability. Because those cases were available to me to reinvest in the practice and start focusing a little bit more on aesthetics.

So, my first office was on the campus of a hospital. It was not a great location. It was not visible. The office was not at all focused towards aesthetics, both in, in the setting and just the strategy overall. And it wasn’t until January of 18. When I opened my current practice, this is in a much better location.

The, the office is beautiful and we’ve really been focusing on aesthetics since that time. So early on in my career. Yeah. It, my practice looked totally different than it does today.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, I did notice that in your practice now it’s beautiful and it shows that you know the ins and outs of going from recon to retail surgery. By the way, it looks like it’s not in a hospital, but it looks like it’s in a building, but much more like a consumer kind of strip mall kind of upscale kind of thing.

Bradford Bader, MD: Yeah. We’re in we’re in a corridor called the Dallas north tollway, which. The major north, south artery through the Dallas Fort worth area. It’s in an affluent area and we’re in a mixed-use development. So right below me is a, is a Tex-Mex restaurant. Yeah. So yeah, you, you can smell as soon as they turn the kitchen on, it smells great.

But yeah, it’s, it’s a little bit of a, of a different setting compared to a traditional medical office building or a standalone medical. Office condominium. So, we’ve got shops, we’ve got restaurants there’s apartments movie theaters. It’s, it’s a walkable neighborhood and it’s right next to a major thorough, so different setting, but we’re much more visible.

We’ve got a huge digital sign that faces. The toll way. And there’s about 180,000 pairs of eyeballs that drive up and down that toll way every day. So, we’re more visible, we’re more accessible. And overall, it’s just, it’s a better setting for us.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Now, when you did that, did it shift your, you know, recon versus cosmetic as you were transitioning from recon to retail surgery?

Bradford Bader, MD: When we moved offices. Yes, we, we, we definitely, and then it’s, it’s been an evolution slowly I’ve dropped the things that no longer make sense financially. And, and it no longer interests me as much. Everything has an opportunity cost, and I really enjoy doing reconstructive. Facial injuries and, and facial cancers.

Those patients are incredibly appreciative and I learned so much from them and it was a huge part of my practice. But as time goes on, you realize your, your time is better spent pursuing higher pain procedures, which in our business tend to be the cash pay cosmetic procedures. So, we, we just recently stopped taking insurance entire.

The last six months. And, and I’ll, I’ll always be thankful for those early years and those patients, and, and I really got a lot of joy out of that practice. I, I miss it in some ways, but I’ve, I’ve moved in a different direction and I’m focusing more on the aesthetic part of our, our business now.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, they’ve made it so darn difficult for you to make a living on recon.

I hear that all the time. I love the work, but I have a family and it’s not just the opportunity cost of doing things that you want to do or not to do, but it’s all the paperwork all the time. All the focus that goes into that, it’s very difficult to toggle both. So out of a hundred percent, like how much of your practice is now cosmetic versus recon? How did this transition effect you when going from recon to retail surgery?

Bradford Bader, MD: Oh, it’s at the moment. It’s probably 95% cosmetic. Wow. Okay. A year ago, it was more 75%. That’s in terms of revenue. So, but in terms of focus in terms of hours, out of my day and, and man hours, in terms of what the staff was focused on, it was more like 50. So, it, it just doesn’t make sense. You have to invest so much more to extract a dollar out of a reconstructive case compared to a cosmetic case.

You have to have higher, more staff billing company. You got to have time to, to sit on the phone with a, with a peer reviewer to get a, a patient’s treatment plan approved, just a lot of headaches. And, and eventually you realize your, your time’s not best. That way and you have to do what’s best for the practice overall.

So, I think the general tendency, as, as, as our practice is mature, is to move towards things that better reflect our time and expertise and that those are the cash paying cosmetic patients who choose you and, and seek out what you could offer them.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, you know what else I also noticed when the patient realizes you take insurance, that can cause all sorts of.

Negotiating things that happen because the patient says, oh, as long as you’re going to take insurance, can you also, you know, fix the bump on my nose? And it becomes, you know, they’re going back and forth between recon and cosmetic and just the, I mean, have you noticed that it can change the relationship with your preferred patient when they think they’re going to hand you an insurance card?

And you’re like, no, I also need a credit card too.

Bradford Bader, MD: yeah, I, I agree. I think that it can complicate the. The, the physician doctor relationship because there’s a third party involved and that’s the insurance company and they’re the ones at the paycheck and patients in general, having a, a poor understanding of what their benefits are, what their responsibilities are and their insurance plans.

And I think insurance companies sort of, they like that. They like the, the ambiguity. They, they want patients to rely on them for these decisions. And it’s just so much easier when I’m offering a service or a product and the patient has a need or desire. And that’s where the power of price comes in.

And if they decide that that what I’m offering is worth it, that’s what they pay. There’s, there’s no third party involved. And so, it’s a simpler relationship. And I, I think we can understand each other quicker that way. Right.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So, let’s talk about the services you offer now regarding surgical versus nonsurgical and how that’s impacted your transition from recon to retail surgery.

I know you offer both. And have you found that you need the nonsurgical to get to the surgical or what’s your philosophy on that? Are you trying to be like a, a one, a one solution kind of shop? One Saha, or would you rather just focus on the surgery and, and, and offer nonsurgical if you have to?

Bradford Bader, MD: We offer nonsurgical.

I, I have one esthetician in the office and she offers adjunctive procedures, ready, frequency microneedling, and non-ablative lasers, chemical peels, skin care. The patients really appreciate that. I think when I first. Started practice or, or really started focusing on aesthetics. I sort of bought into the philosophy or the, the idea that having these aesthetic services can bring in surgical patients.

And I, and I think that there’s still some truth to that, but the scale of that was never impressive. I feel like most of my surgical patients actually come to me because that was their initial interest. So, they find me through other channels. So, so bringing patients in for a HydraFacial you know, it, it didn’t really expand our patient base relative to the cost involved and in providing those services.

Catherine Maley, MBA: It’s a jump, it’s a jump to go from HydraFacial to rhino – Especially when also trying to juggle switching from recon to retail surgery.

Bradford Bader, MD: I think the, the other non-surgical part of the practice is the injectable practice. And I think that there’s no question in the injectable practice, Botox and filler it can definitely augment that the income in the short term, but also help grow your, your, your patient population.

Overall, there are plenty of patients that initially saw me for, or lip filler and, and Botox or something very simple. They’re very happy. With that. And then eventually they graduated to a surgical procedure. So, I, I found the, the growing the patient population a little bit truer in, in terms of offering nonsurgical injectable services rather than the aesthetic services.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Gotcha. And then regarding staff, do you, you set anesthetic institution. Who else is on board? And are you pretty much the main, obviously, the main revenue generator, but is the esthetician bringing in anything or is it just a nice thing to have, or is it difficult to manage when going from recon to retail surgery?

Bradford Bader, MD: Maybe all the above. So yeah, we have a total of four patients.

I’m sorry. Four employees that are full time and then we have two part-time employees. My institution is really the orientation, only the institution on days when I’m in the operating room. So, if I’m the way at the surgery center on Tuesdays, for example, she stacks her patients on those days. And, and we have some patients that really love her and the services she provides.

And, and overall, I guess it’s a net positive to the, to the practice. On the other days, though, she’s kind of my, my closest assistant she’s in all the patient interactions with me. She sees the post-op patient. She talks to she she’s kind of the primary source for patients after they’ve had surgery for questions or concerns.

So, she has a lot of value. Beyond just those Tuesdays when she can bring in some revenue. We have, we have two staff up front, which answer phones. I communicate with patients via a text, which is what we find most patients prefer these days scheduling, rescheduling, those sorts of things. We have a patient care coordinator and she works full time on obviously chasing down leads and, and.

Being in consults with me and, and, and closing those leads. And then we have somebody who helps with in office surgery procedures. She’s one of our part-time employees. And then we have another part-time employee who’s getting ready to go out on maternity leave. So, so the moment with four full time and then the two parttime.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So, any challenges there, any pearls of how you fire hire, motivate to support your quest on learning how to go from recon to retail surgery?

Bradford Bader, MD: Yeah, I think our, our biggest challenge at my practice last several years was staffed. And it really, it took me a long time, longer than it should have to realize what, what the problem was. And it was, it was a problem with culture. So, I recently actually had to let my manager go because ultimately, I found that that.

The reason for the culture or large part was it started with her. And I, I did do a great job of recognizing the problem, fortunately I was able to, to recently turn it around and I’ve got some very little staff that, that kept me apprised of what was happening, things I was missing. And, and at the moment, we’ve, we’ve got a very solid staff that I’m very proud of and happy with.

Yeah, I think, I think creating the culture is super important. We all talk about it. I think it’s, it’s harder to, to actually do and practice. One of the things that I recently heard, which, which I love in terms of culture started from the top is, you know, if the doctor sneezes, the staff feels a hurricane, right?

So, any emotion I’m having is amplified and, and the patient, I’m sorry, the staff feel. Maybe in a different way than I attend. So, so I feel like if I’m not having a great day, the, the staff can perceive that some things that were totally unattended. So, I, I’ve just got to be very careful with, with, with my mood and my emotions and, and that can.

They can trickle down really quickly and create a, not so happy atmosphere. So, I, the things that I found useful giving praise super important constructive criticism and, and positive feedback were always welcome. I like to give random MOs not necessarily scheduled or, or tied to some specific A financial outcome, but just feel like you’re doing a great job.

Here’s a little, little more money on your check this this week. I like to educate; I like them to understand what it is that I’m thinking. And it helps them feel a little more confident when they’re interacting with patients as well. I find delegating appropriate tasks empowering them to solve problems.

Everyone wants to feel important. Everyone wants to. I like to part of the team that they’re trusted. And so as much as I can, I like to, to delegate tests and ask them to achieve things. And then when they do give the appropriate praise, so the staff want to be part of the winning team. You need to share the success.

And when there’s failure, everyone used to understand the lessons and, and move on from it.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, the missing link I often see between recon patients retail surgery patients. The surgeon and the staff is…The surgeon doesn’t realize all arrows point to him. And however, you are feeling that is so true, that statement, however, you are feeling it’s magnified by them because they’re watching your every move and you’re setting the tone and then meeting with them regularly.

I find that a lot of surgeons have said, oh no, I’ve given everyone their tasks. They all know what they’re supposed to do, but then they’re not checking up on them. And that’s when things can go sideways. Like money walking out the door because you think certain things are happening that are not, and you always find out in the worst ways, you know, it’s always like what, you know, dear.

So, I would just say communicating with the staff regularly, reminding them what your standards are and your expectations and how you envision this practice to grow and run so you can go from recon to retail surgery as issue-free as possible. And they’ve got to all understand where you’re trying to go. And I just find a lot of times the surgeons are not, I don’t, maybe the surgeons aren’t even clear on their own, you know, I don’t know what, you know, maybe they don’t know what, but boy staff, staff will you have to take the full responsibility for staff during the transition from recon to retail surgery.

You hired them, you trained them or didn’t you manage them or didn’t, and there’s nothing easy about it.

Bradford Bader, MD: No question. I mean, I don’t duck responsibility for, for example, the, the, the staff turnover that we’ve had recently, I’m, I’m a hundred percent responsible for. Whatever happens in the, in the practice?

But yeah, I think, I think what she said is correct that sometimes the surgeon or, or the, the lead physician doesn’t have a clear vision of, of what the practice should be or, or what he, or she wants the practice to be. And, and my feeling is it I’ve been doing this since, since 2010. And I only recently understood, I think.

What I want out of my practice and what I really want to focus on. And, and that’s helped a lot because once you understand what you’re trying to achieve, then creating a plan, creating a path becomes a lot easier. It’s very easy to say, well, I just want to grow all things in all directions.

And for so long, that was, that was my focus. You know, I. I want to buy this laser. I want to hire this injector. I want to create this skincare line. I want to open this location. And, and I think that model works for obviously a lot of patient surgeons, physicians. Who’ve been extremely successful. But there’s a lot of different ways to, to achieve what you want.

And, and I’ve really kind of distilled down what I want, my, what I want my practice to be just really in the last year or so. What we’re trying to do is, is not necessarily grow. We’re actually trying to get a little smaller, more focused create a core competency and really compete More on a national, even an international level.

That’s, that’s kind of the direction we’re going right now. So, so at the moment I’m really focusing on rhinoplasty. I feel like that’s our core competency. That’s what I really enjoy. It’s what I think that I do best. And so, we’re, we’re really structuring the practice around that idea. We want to be sort of a destination location for patients seeking rhino.

Catherine Maley, MBA: By the way on your website, you have rhinoplasty revision, rhinoplasty and preservation, rhinoplasty or something. What is that and has it helped on going from recon to retail surgery?

Bradford Bader, MD: So, I mean, the reason for the, for the website is as you know, SEO and, and the website guys like to create a lot of words. and that’s how the search bots find you. Right? So, but yeah, the rhinoplasty is kind of what we think of as traditional rhinoplasty revision.

Rhinoplasty is for patients that are happy with the rhinoplasty. Preservation rhinoplasty is a, is a newer concept that is kind of all the rage right now. I, you know, when COVID happened, we all had a lot of time. And, and one of the things that I did is, is I was really looking for something new in, in, in wild what’s out there.

What have I never heard of seen before? Let, let’s try something totally different if I can find it. And I started reading and consuming all of these newer techniques coming out of Turkey. Gotcha. So, Turkey is sort of the, the world capital rhinoplasty and these surgeons they they’re incredible the amount of volume they do.

They’ll do five to 800 rhinoplasty is a year. That’s most than the average American surgeon does in his entire career. Right. So incredible amount of volume and, and they learn things very quickly because when you’re doing that many surgeries, you pick up on things. So, preservation around plasticity is the idea of, instead of, for example, you have a bump on your nose and you’re to shave it down.

That’s kind of the traditional technique. They’re using techniques to actually create room below the bridge of the nose and sink the whole nose down. Mm-hmm so it theoretically is less destructive. It requires. Less dissection, faster healing, potentially better results. So, I got really into that. And I actually traveled to Turkey in February of this year.

So just recently and I really wanted to see what these guys were doing because the results were, were almost unbelievable. The things they could do.

Catherine Maley, MBA: I actually I used to live in Turkey (Istanbul) for one year and I would say, oh, nine out of 10 of them needed a rhinoplasty. yeah, that is the perfect culture.

They all, like, they all are very similar bone structure and noses are very prominent there and I’m sure there are many recon and retail surgery patients when it comes to rhinoplasties.

Bradford Bader, MD: Yeah. Yeah. It’s the kind of the classic Mediterranean knows, right. The practices I visited there was, there was there were two municipal and one in Natalia, which is a coastal city. And it’s really interesting, Catherine.

They have actually, they’re, they’re basically destination practices. They actually don’t operate on Turks. They only operate on foreigners. Mm-hmm. So, they recruit these patients from all over. I was there for a week and I met at least one patient from every comment and they, it, it was really eye-opening because these, these guys they’re phenomenal surgeons just very nice people, very open.

Educated me in, in a lot of different ways. They have small staff; they have one or two room offices. Their staff were mainly hired for their, for their language skills. Hmm. So, they, they would have

you know, somebody who spoke German, Russian and French. And her job is to sit around all day and wait for the Instagram and WhatsApp messages to come in from patients who prefer those languages. That’s how they get theirs, and these patients travel from all of the world to I, or their population is similar to runty S or two most run plastic practices.

It’s by and large young females. So you, you would meet these 20 year old females from, from London or Columbia or Singapore or Australia. And they would travel alone to a country they’ve never been to, or they don’t know anyone. They don’t speak the language and they’ve, they’ve literally got a bag full of cash, because that’s the only.

Payment they’ll accept. And they’re going to stay in, in Turkey for 7, 10, 14 days. And you might ask, well, why are they doing that? Why don’t they? I mean, surely there, there are surgeons back home. They can do these procedures. The is it’s, it’s all about the result. And that’s what really opened my eyes.

These guys are, are doing the surgery and achieving results at such a high level that they can literally attract patients from across the globe. Because these patients see something on Instagram, that’s what they want. They maybe have consults with local surgeons and, and they just don’t perceive the results being we’re close.

So I think it was just a really interesting, interesting model.

Catherine Maley, MBA: And, but are they charging less for rhino than we are here in the states? They have to be some doing that since they have a lot of recon and retail surgery patients over there.

Bradford Bader, MD: Some do. Some charge, much more. And, and I, I think they’re always struggling a little bit with demand and, and their pricing, because the idea of traveling overseas makes sense if you’re going to save money, but yeah, a little bit of a, of a harder decision, if, if the expenses equivalent or even more than what you could pay at home mm-hmm

So I think is for every one patient that actually goes and has their surgery there. There’s probably 10 others, at least that are highly motivated and want to have a rhinoplasty, but for whatever reason, they’re not going to travel to Turkey. Right. It’s just too far. It’s too, whatever it might be. So my ideas is if I can somehow achieve similar results and market in the same way and capture.

Some of those patients that are out there that are looking for these, these kind elite level results. If, if I can somehow tap into that that’s kind of moment.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, making that very difficult for you to do. Because everything’s gotten, you know, so geographical, like you have to, you know, they, if I’m sitting in Sausalito, they want to give me a rhino guy in Sausalito, you know, I how, like, do you have a strategy for that and how to find more recon and retail surgery patients globally?

Will they show you to the world?

Bradford Bader, MD: So In Google, I don’t know. And in reality, we we’ve, we’ve invested a lot in Google AdWords and, and SEO optimization and the results have been disappointing. And I think that you’re right, it mostly delivers local patients. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want to expand your market, if you want to be visible to patients beyond your market, but are willing perhaps to travel I think Instagram’s a better option.

Being able to. But harness their algorithm because they know who’s scrolling through and looking at ins at rhinoplasty pages and results and who they follow and what they click on, what they interact with. In my, you know, novice mind, I feel like Instagram gives us an opportunity to market to these patients that are looking for rhinoplasty.

No matter where they are and whether it’s ads or using hashtags, or there’s a different strategies we use. There’s, there’s just a lot more chatter.

I that, to where really never seems to be much of a change, no matter what we spent or how we spent.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well with Instagram, you know, it’s a floating platform to get more retail surgery patients, you know, you never know what’s going to happen. I always suggest. That you somehow have a mechanism set up, you offer some kind of lead magnet or some kind of special report to then get them to a landing page to give you their name, their cell phone, their female.

So at least you own that because overnight you got, you’ve seen that. Well, you’re doing face, but the body guys are getting kicked off left and right, which makes it tough when trying to transition from recon to retail surgery.

Bradford Bader, MD: You know, and I got a post taken down of a nose for nudity. It’s a nose. Why. Who knows. I mean, it’s not humans making these decisions, computer algorithms, and they make mistakes, but good luck ever talking to a, to a human to correct it, but you’re right.

It’s, it’s you know, it’s, it’s their pool and they can kick us out whenever they want. So it’s, it’s little bit dangerous to, to really focus on the one channel.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, you know how I’m looking at it? Currently, Instagram social media leads. I call them inquiries because they’re so far out of their mindset, their geography, their reality in helping surgeons get more recon and more retail surgery patients.

They’re just inquiries right now. so I, I’m always trying to figure out for my clients how to automate that part and then get humans involved. When they’re more serious and then you have to decide, well, what is that fence that they had to jump over to get serious when it comes to recon and retail surgery. And, you know, whether it be like the opt-in, if they were willing to give you their contact information, maybe they’re more serious.

So like, for example, I would say you want, you want to know the prices now? Sure. I just need your, I just need your contact information. So at least I have a, a chance of nurturing them or, or finding out if they’re at all, really in the market or do some kind of a quiz, you know, some fun quiz, like, you know and, and ask that question to single out recon and retail surgery patients.

When are you thinking about having this done? Because if they’re just fool around, that’s the problem with rhinoplasties? Not a problem C. Rhinoplasty is already typically the younger person typically, (which are the preferred patient for that procedure), and they have no idea what they’re doing. They don’t know how much these things cost or what’s involved. But they like the pictures so you know, do you spend a lot of time educating?

I saw your Instagram just showing great photos and yours. Very cute. So you can tell who you’re trying to market to and find recon and retail surgery patients. Talking about marketing, I was going to ask you about that, but you’ve pretty much answered it in terms of recon and retail surgery patients and how to find them. It’s very difficult to be a facial plastic surgeon. Have those two roads. One is the younger rhinoplasty patient and the other is the more mature facial rejuvenation patient.

And she sees you ONAC and that completely turns her off. And the rhino patients see you, you know, lean well, blah, blah, blah. And maybe that turns them off. So how are it the way you’re going to handle it is basically you’re going to pick one Aren’t you. You’re going with the rhino.

Bradford Bader, MD: Yeah. I, I think that, that, that’s where I’d like to go.

I agree is focused on the rhinoplasty. I think that there’s just you you’re right. It’s two different markets entirely. Not all the different from when I first started in my practice where, you know, half my waiting room was, was reconstructive patients who had big bandages on their face. They were having the worst day of their life.

And then sitting next to the patient who just wants acute nose or is finally ready for that facelift. So yeah, I think, I think being an expert is difficult in a field that’s fairly broad. And I, and I think the, the, the certain who, who do bodied plastics probably have the same type of problems.

There’s different between the, the 20 something breast dog, patient versus the mommy make. They’re a little different, a little different stage of life. So I think being presenting yourself, marketing yourself as an expert in all things face, all things, body is, is easier than you know, trying to be two people at once in, in terms of your personality.

I, I try to be authentic. Yeah. Sometimes I feel silly and I’ll, and I’ll do something ONT talk and we can laugh about it. Right. But I’m also a surgeon. I’m, I’m a professional and I can sit down and have a very serious conversation about somebody’s surgical options. And it doesn’t feel fake or, or, or out of the norm for me, I, I think I can handle both, but in terms of what gets me up, what really excites me what I enjoy doing.

I, I, I think going in a, in a rhinoplasty direction just makes sense for me right now in my practice.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, the riches are in the niches when it comes to finding recon and retail surgery patients. By the way, how many shoes do you own? I would say that’s part of your branding. I think every time I think of you, I think my God, he has a lot of shoes and they’re all amazing.

And you also have a very interesting Suit. So you’re, you’re quite a dresser. So has that helped a lot with attention in finding more recon and retail surgery patients?

Bradford Bader, MD: Yeah, I, I think so. I mean, I think it, it’s just a way to express myself a little bit. I like clothes. I like shoes. I think it’s Again, you don’t want to be somebody you’re not, I think that that can be very insincere people, patients will see through that.

But yeah, I, I get plenty of patients that, that first thing I do when I walk in the room. Let me see what shoes you have. Yeah. Cause they know me and they know that that that’s kind one of my interests. Yeah, it it’s, I think being sincere. In terms of social media marketing and, and who you want to be, or, or what party personality you want to portray.

It’s, it’s got to be authentic. And I think people who struggle with social media and find it a chore, all find it a chore. But if you’re doing things that, that

you wouldn’t ordinarily do in your everyday routine, Then it feels like a chore. Okay. But picking out a, a, a fun pair of shoes or, or shopping for a silly suit, like doesn’t seem out of the norm for me, that’s just kind of who I am. So when, when I do it and capture on social media, I think it, it feels authentic.

And patients connect with that for sure.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, you have a very good blend of the real you with the shoes and then the surgeon, you and I love, love, love. I. More surgeons would do it. You know, when you’re showing the photo where you have a, a guy, a kid he’s, I don’t know, 20 years old. And he hasn’t had a straight nose in 13 years.

He could barely talk because he was so choked up with his result. You show that kind of emotional video. Well, you’ve got me, you know, and I, I like all the mothers out there who have kids who are, you know, so, you know, they’re, they have no confidence. They just, their self-image is shot. Because of the darn nose.

I mean, that’s transformational and please show more of that because that’s what you’re doing. You’re changing lives while finding recon and retail surgery patients. One knows at a time, you know?

Bradford Bader, MD: Yeah. I, patients rhino in don’t recognize that lifechanging moment that it can be a life changing moment for a patient. I have over the years had plenty of patients that look like a whole new person when I saw them in between. Their surgery and maybe their three or six month following visit it wasn’t because of knows difference, felt different.

Mm-hmm maybe at the pre I met you know, a woman who didn’t really do her hair, makeup didn’t care. She wore kind of looked down, never smiled. Maybe she’s working. Part-time not really going to school. And she brought the loser boyfriend with her. OK. Mm-hmm then I see that same patient back at six months, the only thing that’s changed, you know, to her physical appearance is her nose and she loves it and she’s got her hair out.

She’s done her makeup. She’s got a cute outfit on, she dumped the loser boyfriend. She’s going to school now. I mean, it really can send your life in a different trajectory really entirely. And I think people who don’t have this problem right in the middle of their face, like these do they don’t never understand that.

But I think being able to connect with those patients and offer them hopefully a way to change the path of their life. That’s what I find. So, so rewarding. You know, and, and yeah, I love those moments. Absolutely. They’re. They’re fantastic. They’re the reason that you want to get up and do it again the next day.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Right? So Instagram is probably your primary marketing channel on finding recon and retail surgery patients. Are there any others, are you involved in real self or you two having your own channel? You know, I saw you also on TikTok, which I think you need to be if you’re going after rhino. But do you have a marketing plan?

Bradford Bader, MD: Yeah. I mean, talk’s mostly for fun.

I wouldn’t say we have a marketing effort there who knows. I think that’ll change in the future. Instagram is, is our primary focus. We still have some money in Google AdWords an SEO optimization. I mentioned the video board that faces the road outside the office building. You get a ton of people that, that say, oh, I saw your picture.

Just at least they see your brand. And maybe they have to drive up and down the, the road for six months before they decide to call. But it’s just a, it’s another channel. I’m trying to think what else we might do. Oh, we did RealSelf for a while. I dropped that. I, I just didn’t find it. Didn’t find it useful.

I put a lot of effort in it, but just much so we, we kind of moved on from that. Oh, we have YouTube channel. Yeah. We So, I don’t know. I got this idea of I guess it’s not unique, but, but I started analyzing like celebrity noses, right? So we, we put out a bunch of YouTube videos. I haven’t done one in a while, but it’s called Dr.

Bader knows Hollywood. So I. Phoenix. That is perfect. And I would do a little more so I could, you know, I’d say, well, here’s what Tom cruise or, or Bella Hadid would look like if, if here she came to me for round class, here’s what I would offer.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So that’s a great idea on how to find recon and retail surgery patients. Would you can tell, did, did you get a lot of likes or all? huh?

Bradford Bader, MD: You know, we got a lot of interest. I’ll say that. And. That was really my first experience Catherine with how ugly people can be online. Because for example, you know I mentioned Bella Hadid. So I, I did a video on her, on her nose. And by far I got the most number of views and comments and a lot of them were, were sort of hateful, you know, and, oh my God, what did you do to her?

That’s a. It’s a terrible, you botched her, you just for, for me analyzing her nose and offering how I would change it. And, and it wasn’t in a, I didn’t, I don’t think I did it in a mean way. I said, look, here’s what I see wrong with Bell’s nose. If she came to me as a patient, here are the things I would tell her that if we could improve upon and, and here’s how it would fuck.

And there were so many patients. Or people out there I think are just really big fans of, of Bella Hadid, who didn’t like my thoughts at all. So I’ve been a little shy to kind of reach out again to, to make some more of those. Mostly take a lot of time. There’s a lot of video editing and, and you know about that there there’s just so only so many hours in the day.

But yeah, it was fairly popular and I, and I use it mostly as an educational tool because there are plenty of patients that will sit at home or people lay people to sit at home and say, well, there’s nothing wrong. With Courtney Kardashian’s nose and, and I’ll do a video kind of explaining from, from a rhinoplasty surgeon’s perspective, the many things that I see wrong with her nose and, and, and she’s had a rhinoplasty, so I can kind of go through her, her before and her after picks and the areas that maybe could still be improved upon.

So it was, it was not like a celebrity show where I’m saying, oh, her outfit’s terrible. Or, you know, it wasn’t that You know that wasn’t the point of, yeah, it was really just education. It was it’s here. Here’s what it knows. You know, Matt Damon, he’s just his nose is, is, is very interesting. It’s, it’s, it’s almost feminine.

So I kind of pointed that out. You know, here’s, what’s unique about Matt Damon’s nose and why it looks a little different on him than most male noses that you see. So it was.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, if you want my 2 cents, I say, keep doing it because the more you create user generated content with all those users commenting and that’s what Google wants.

So you, your name and rhinoplasty keep coming together and keep doing it to find more recon and retail surgery patients.

Bradford Bader, MD: All right. We’ll, we’ll think of that. Yeah, we got to, we got to come up with it. Yeah.

Catherine Maley, MBA: You know, nowadays you can’t just be the surgeon and the manager and the leader and the visionary, but you’ve got to be the marketer to find more recon and retail surgery patients. So how many days, or how many hours a day would you say you’re spending on Instagram or YouTube?

Bradford Bader, MD: Gosh that’s really hard to say. I’d say anywhere from one to two hours a day, if I edit it all up, And it can vary. I mean, I can, I can go several days without putting any sort of marketing effort towards, towards the. I’m sorry, or towards the Instagram page. But it always seems like we’re interacting with Instagram, somehow answering direct messages and responding to comments, those, those sorts of things.

Cause we want our followers to, to know we’re engaged and reachable right. It’s a challenge. Just like any others. And if we don’t respond to inquiries, then they’ll stop coming.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Yeah. I mean, would you say most of your preferred patient business is coming from Instagram and, and are you able to track.

Bradford Bader, MD: Yes, I’d say the vast majority of our new patients find us in some sort of fashion via Instagram.

Nice. You know, and, and since we’ve started to focus on the rhinoplasty and we’ve started to Market our posts and, and our, and our style pictures and everything. The, the way, you know, this in this new style and effort about half of our consults are from patients out of town. Okay. So, you know, we’re reaching a much larger audience than we were.

Previously, we’ve got patients coming from Hawaii, Chicago, North Carolina, Florida, New York, all over, really. And, and that’s pretty new. I mean, I would maybe get one or two out of town, patients and years pass, but now about half of, of our, our new consults or out of town patients.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Wow. Are you doing open or closed with your recon and retail surgery patients?

Bradford Bader, MD: Right. So I do both. At the moment we’re doing mostly open okay. With the preservation technique I was doing mostly closed. Okay. But that’s yeah, that can, that can vary at the moment. I’m in a open mostly. Yeah. Okay.

Catherine Maley, MBA: And then do you do computer imaging to further help you find and keep recon and retail surgery patients?

Bradford Bader, MD: We do always. Yeah. I find that that’s probably the most powerful tool to communicate with the patient mm-hmm and I don’t know how I did concepts about it.

I really. I, I, patient, I always take photos and then I put it into a very simple imaging more software mm-hmm and I’ll show them kind of the side view, the front view, and then the underneath you the base view. And there’s so it’s, it’s so informative for me and for the patient, because.

We speak a different language when it comes to rhinoplasty, right? Patients will use certain terms that did, honestly, they’re really hard for me to interpret as a surgeon because I’m used to using very technical terms, right? So when somebody says my nose is hooked or there’s a bump, or it’s very hard for me to interpret what that means.

Look, if I take a photo and I’ll change something, then. That’s it exactly. Well, now we’re on the same page. And I can with their input, create something that is, you know, our, our 10 out of 10 result that we’re, we’re hoping to achieve.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Mm-hmm and then are you also doing virtual consultations to reach out to recon and retail surgery patients?

Bradford Bader, MD: We do, we do virtual consultations.

The majority of our town patients choose to have a virtual for their first consultation. So yeah, we, they, through our, through our EMR, we can have video chats and a hip safe way and they can upload their photos and I can morph them and send them back to, so it’s, it’s actually a pretty efficient way to do a, at least a round plastic console.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Now, are you letting anybody do a virtual to get even more recon and retail surgery patients, or do they have to. So many miles away from the office.

Bradford Bader, MD: Anybody can do a virtual, if that’s their request.

Catherine Maley, MBA: All right, Dr. Bader, are you finding the close rate is better or worse virtually versus in person? How does that effect finding recon and retail surgery patients?

Bradford Bader, MD: Boy, I’m not sure I’ve looked at that specifically, Catherine. I really can’t answer. I mean, I think that the patients who are out of town. And, and are willing to pay a consultation fee and, and have a virtual call. They’re probably a little further down the road to making that final decision. So it, it might be that their conversion rate is higher, but I don’t know that for certain.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So give me one big mistake you’ve made so far during your journey on finding recon and retail surgery patients. You’ve been at this for 12 years. You know, they always say the smartest people don’t make mistakes. They, they learn from everyone. Else’s what’s, what’s gimme.

Bradford Bader, MD: Just one?

Catherine Maley, MBA: Yeah, a doozy.

Bradford Bader, MD: Gosh, I’ve made so many, it’s hard. It’s hard to, but I. I guess really from the beginning, not having a good idea, a vision plan.

I was, I was just kind of putting one foot in front of the other, trying to get to the next day, the next week, the next month with no grand vision. And I think that’s really hard. At least it was for me to, to understand what it, what it was I wanted my practice to be, especially when you’re just starting out.

And, you know, you’re, you’re worried about like paying the next rent, right? It’s really hard to say, okay, this, this is where I’m going to go. I’m going to, so I think it as, as early as, as you can, when you’re starting your practice is I know it sounds silly, but you know, kind of come up with, with a, with a goal, a.

Some endpoint something to achieve and it could even be just for that month or that year or 10 years. I don’t know. But I never really sat down and had a goal, had a vision, had a, had a strategic plan. And I think that was perhaps my biggest mistake and, and it delayed. Me kind of progressing to the type of practice that I am now.

Probably because I just didn’t have a roadmap of what I wanted, how to get there.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, if it’s any consolation, I think you’re ahead of the game on figuring out how to find recon and retail surgery patients, because most surgeons… There isn’t a well thought out plan. The plan was to get through medical school and residency and fellowship, and then open their own practice and figure out this business and marketing because by the way, in today’s were you trained on any of that?

Did you get any education on the business and marketing side of surgery.

Bradford Bader, MD: So I have an undergrad degree in finance, so, oh, nice. Yeah. I’ve got some book knowledge, right? Know what income statement is? You teach myself accounting software made sense to during fellowship. The, the little things that helped me along at least in private practice is one of my duties was to figure out all the coding for every surgery I was involved.

right. So there’s nothing I received in residency. And I, I literally just had to, you know, start from scratch and, and teach myself. But it was a really valuable skill because. I could start in private practice from day one. I was very comfortable with coding things properly for insurance procedures.

For a while I would, I would give a course at our big national meeting every year on just how to code. Wow. You get paid and it’s not hard. And you could absolutely do it. Don’t have to hire somebody and pay 50,000 a year. You just, you know, takes 30 minutes out of each day. So I, I feel like I did have a little bit more education, both in formal undergrad education, but also in fellowship.

And maybe I was a little bit better prepared than the average surgeon just starting out.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Yeah. And then what skills do you think you need in today’s world to find more recon and retail surgery patients? Like, are, is there anything you’re learning now that you didn’t think you would’ve had

Bradford Bader, MD: to learn? Social media for sure. Right. I mean, back when I started, it was, you know, all your marketing dollars need to go on your website, right.

Just website, website, website, and, and searching and optimization. And that’s still part of it. But You know, having a beautiful before and after gallery on your website was, was the pinnacle. Right? And now I’m not sure how many people actually search for those truthfully, at least in the rhinoplasty world, they go to your Instagram page.

They they’re going to, they’re going to scroll through your feed. They’re going to look at your noses and they’re going to figure out in a hurry. If, if you are, were their kind of style. So learning Instagram. And I feel like I was a late adopter. We didn’t really harness Instagram and all of its power till probably the last three or four years, honestly.

So yeah, and, and I’m no expert by any means and it’s always changing, but I feel like the moment we found a way to connect with our patients and. Engagement. And, and we’ve really shifted our focus from quantity to quality in terms of our content. I’d much rather have one or two really solid posts a week than, you know, eight to 10 that everyone just scrolls right past and, and doesn’t hold anyone’s interest.

So we really focus on, on generating something. That’s going to catch eyes more than. Pushing out as much content as possible.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So with this new clarity on reaching and finding recon and retail surgery patients that you have, which I love you know, focusing on the out town rhinoplasty patient does that change. Any of your other strategy as in the office you are in, is it near the airport?

Is there an nice hotel nearby? Are, are there nursing services that can take care of them? Like, are you thinking about that?

Bradford Bader, MD: Absolutely. We, and it’s a work in progress. Yeah. We want to be able to help our patients through every step of way. Centrally located kind of in the middle of the country. And there’s, there’s two major airports, so we’re pretty accessible.

It, where we live is, is a, a fairly dense area. So there are plenty of options in terms of hotels and Airbnb’s and BBOs, and, and we want to create sort of a slate of different options. Everything from you know, cheap as can be to. You know, the penthouse at this very nice hotel and everything in between.

So we’re, we’re, we’re cultivating that now. And it’s, it’s an area of focus for us is, is creating a seamless experience for our out of town patients.

Catherine Maley, MBA: That’s great because I had a, a client who was very high end and charged of fortune. Yet you had to stay at like the residence in or something. I just thought what a disconnect, like, I mean, where’s the Ritz or like at least give me a Marta or something.

And I, I would just be cognizant of that to get more recon and retail surgery patients, you know, like, absolutely.

Bradford Bader, MD:. Yeah. We want to create an elevated experience for right from beginning to end.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So any last comments, any words to wisdom for anybody else coming up or wanting to learn why they need to find recon and retail surgery patients?

Bradford Bader, MD: No. I mean, you know what, we’re all learning. We’re all just trying to get a little better every day.

I don’t, I don’t want to give the impression that I’ve all got it figured out and I don’t nobody does, but I think it’s important to Learn as much as you can. And, and I’ve always loved your podcast. I’ve always learned so much the people you interview, your, your words of wisdom and just the lessons that all of your guests have, have brought.

I learned so much and hopefully I I’ve taught somebody out there something today. But just beyond that read as much as you can interact with as many colleagues as you can, it’s so much easier to connect with people nowadays. It used to be, you’d see everyone maybe once a year at a meeting.

And it was really hard to, to extract very much information, but now there’s, there’s Facebook groups. There’s, there’s telegram and WhatsApp groups and, and it’s so easy to, to text a colleague, call whatever, be to use all of them. The knowledge out there that’s available to you and, and reach out to new contacts and, and interact with those people as well.

So I think you asked me about mistakes. I think that was a mistake of mine is, is sort of just put my head down and trying to figure it out all on my own instead of exploiting some of the, the, you know, the mentors and colleagues and, and their successes and failures and applying them to my practice.

So don’t feel alone out there. Everyone is, is trying to get a little better of those learning use your assets, use your resources and it’ll help you along.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Yeah. Good words of wisdom. Congratulations on your growth. And I, I, I’m looking forward to watching you grow more.

So if somebody did want to get, you know, reach out to you in regards to how to find recon and retail surgery patients, is it

Bradford Bader, MD: Yeah, The Instagram is the same @BaderFacialPlastics. Yeah. If, if, if of course I’d love to hear from anyone out there that has any questions or words of wisdom or, or wanted my input on anything. Absolutely.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Thank you so much, Dr. Bader on this great talk on why and how to find and get recon and retail surgery patients. I hope to see you again in a meeting coming up soon.

Bradford Bader, MD: Yeah, I’ll see you. Same again soon, Catherine. Nice. Nice to see.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Okay. Thanks everybody. We are going to wrap it up now for Beauty and the Biz and how to find recon and retail surgery patients with Dr. Bader.

If you have any questions or feedback for me, you can go ahead and leave them at my website at, or you can certainly DM me on Instagram @CatherineMaleyMBA.

If you’ve enjoyed this episode on Beauty and the Biz, please head over to Apple Podcasts and give me a review and subscribe to Beauty and the Biz so you don’t miss any episodes. And of course, please share this with your staff and colleagues.

And we will talk to you again soon. Take care.

-End transcript for the “Recon to Retail Surgery – with Bradford Bader, MD” Podcast.

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Catherine Maley

Catherine is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on practice building, marketing and the business side of plastic surgery. Get a Free Copy of her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying View Author Profile.


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