Hello, and welcome to Beauty and the Biz where we talk about the business and marketing side of plastic surgery, and how Dr. Mueller became “The Surgeon Inventor”.
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 “The Surgeon Inventor — with Gregory Mueller, MD”.
Most plastic surgeons see a problem and complain about it or wish it could be easier, faster, more precise, etc.
A rare surgeon sees the same problem and invents a solution for other surgeons to benefit from.
That’s what my Beauty and the Biz Podcast guest did.
⬇️ Click below to hear “The Surgeon Inventor — with Gregory Mueller, MD”
Greg Mueller, MD is a board-certified plastic surgeon running a busy Beverly Hills practice during the day and inventing at night and on weekends.
He is best known for www.MyEllevate.com, a minimally-invasive neck lift contouring procedure that was bought by Cynosure, as well as ICLED Surgical Suture System, a light-guided technology and the oVio360 Imaging System.
We talked about the herculean effort it takes to bring a new product to market and the many pearls he learned along the way.
P.S. On Monday, I talked about fixing your phones so grab my 5 Phone Fixes Guide guaranteed to increase your phone conversions by 30% within 48 hours.
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The Surgeon Inventor — with Gregory Mueller, MD
Catherine Maley, MBA: Hello and welcome to Beauty and the Biz, where we talk about the business and marketing side of plastic surgery and how Dr. Mueller became The Surgeon Inventor. 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 special guest is very special because he became The Surgeon Inventor.
It’s Dr. Greg Mueller. Now, he’s board-certified. He’s a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills and he’s been there since 1998 and became The Surgeon Inventor. Now he’s also an inventor and this is the part I’m very excited to talk to him about. Dr. Mueller invented the ICLED Surgical Suture System, formally called The Guide Surgical System, and it’s a light-guided technology for cosmetic surgery and he’s also invented the oVio360 Imaging System.
Now, Dr. Mueller is best known for MyEllevate, which is a jawline contouring procedure that offers the convenience of minimally invasive technology with long lasting results. Now in 2021 Cynosure purchased the MyEllevate necklift procedure. So, let’s find out more about that. Dr. Mueller and for becoming The Surgeon Inventor, welcome to Beauty and the Biz.
It is such a pleasure to have you. I’ve tried to get you on for a while, and thanks for coming.
Gregory Mueller, MD: Oh, Catherine, thank you. And it’s such a pleasure to be here and I’m excited to talk about you know, the innovations and my practice here in Beverly Hills and any questions you might have for me. So, let’s let it go.
Catherine Maley, MBA: So, it’s the inventor part of that. Cause most surgeons, I’ll just say generally speaking, they’re a fairly, like a finite, linear kind of thinking group. And in your case, you’ve got to be pretty creative to be inventive and to become The Surgeon Inventor. How in the world are you coming up with these ideas?
Gregory Mueller, MD: You know, Catherine I grew up in Nebraska and it was the fifth of five kids, the youngest, and our household was chaotic.
They. Five kids born in six years. So, I was kind of an independent guy. The last one, the youngest one. And so, I was always a tinkerer. I was always like looking at things. I was kind of like the little nerd inventor. And I remember when I was a little kid, my mom, I would watch her go down the stairs to check the washer and dryer and then she’d, you know, they wouldn’t be done.
And then she’d come back upstairs and it was this total waste of time. So, I rigged up this whole light and buzzer system for my mother, and that was my first invention. So, I’ve always been the type of person I can look at something and say to myself, is there a better way of doing it? And I would say that’s probably how MyEllevate was born.
I was looking at necks and I just thought, you know, there’s got to be a better way to do neck surgery that’s less invasive, and that’s where it.
Catherine Maley, MBA: But then where did the plastic surgery fit in on your road to become The Surgeon Inventor? Because if you were a kid tinkering around, it seems like you would’ve gone with engineering or. Sure. You know, something like that.
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah. No, no, no, no. It’s, it’s such a good question. So, I you know, I always wanted to be a doctor. Ever since I was a little kid. I grew up in this little town called Oola, Nebraska, 5,000 people. And we just had I think we had four family doctors and a surgeon. And so, as a kid I always wanted to be a doctor.
And my mother, she was the scrub tech for the general surgeon. So, I would go up to watch them do surgery sometimes. And I thought it was pretty cool what they did, like fixing a body and things like that. And even when I was in college at University of Nebraska, I entertained the thought of becoming an engineer or maybe an architect, but I found those to be kind of isolating and I love people so, much.
So, I thought, you know what? I should stick with medicine. And so, I just kind of, you know, had this whole pathway for surgery and that’s how it all started.
Catherine Maley, MBA: So, now you’re a surgeon in Beverly Hills who became The Surgeon Inventor. I might add, and we’ll talk about that a little later. So, you’re doing surgery and you’re literally, half of your brain is doing the surgery and the other half is trying to figure out how to make it easier, better.
What, how did, how did that come about as you became The Surgeon Inventor? The MyEllevate?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, so, you know, I finished at U S C in 1998 and went into practice here in Beverly Hills. And you know, right off from the start I just thought, you know, the neck procedures I felt were pretty invasive and some of the patients didn’t want to have a big invasive procedure.
So, in my mind I was just thinking. There’s got to be a way to sew the neck muscles and to kind of smooth the area underneath the jawline without surgically opening the whole thing up. Because with neck surgery, that’s what adds the complexity is when you make an incision under here and then you’re cutting around the ears, you’re lifting up all the skin, and the only reason you’re doing that, especially in the front of the area, is to see the muscles to sew them.
So, I thought there’s got to be a way to sew the muscles without directly opening the. And that’s where it all began. And that was way back, that was like back in 1999 to 2000 when I started thinking about it.
Catherine Maley, MBA: And then how long did it take you to actually do it to become The Surgeon Inventor? Sure. And make sure it was really something effective.
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, yeah. So, you know, I, I would do traditional open neck procedures and, and facelifts and necklaces and so, on. And then back in like early two-thousands, I started placing my endoscope in just to look at how things looked underneath the skin. Because I thought maybe I could endoscopically, you know, sew the muscles together, because I knew that, you know, people were doing endoscopic brow lifts, which I was as well then.
So, I thought, wow, maybe we could do an endoscopic, you know, neck muscle surgery. Well, when I was looking with my scope, this is back in 2005, I noticed that the skin was attached to the underlying muscles with all of these liga. And I recognized that those ligaments were pretty strong and they were always present even after doing liposuction.
So, then the thought came in my head, wow, I could, I could wrap the sutures around those little ligaments and use that as an anchor. And then when I had my scope in there, I could see the light through the skin. So, I thought, Wait a minute. If I had a sewing needle that was illuminated with a thread attached to it, then I could look at the skin on the outside, see where it was going.
If the light faded away, I knew I was too deep. Or if it was just nice and yellow, I knew I was right in the nice fatty layer, which I needed to be. Then I could use that as my directional guide. And so, that’s how the whole idea was born, was looking to endoscope and studying the area underneath the skin.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Was that your other invention as you became The Surgeon Inventor? The, the.
Gregory Mueller, MD: No. Well, yeah. Oh yeah. That’s, you know, the I C L E D kit. Mm-hmm. IC means I see you with my eyes like IC and then l e d light. So, the surgical kit is, it’s not an endoscope, it’s basically just an illuminated sewing needle and thread. And so, that tiny little sewing needle, we pass it underneath the skin and the doctor looks at the light shining through the skin to determine exactly where they are.
Catherine Maley, MBA: So, do those two go together or do you just, is MyEllevate including that light or can you do it without it? How does that relate to you becoming The Surgeon Inventor
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, so, you, you can’t do the MyEllevate procedure without the light because you need the light guidance to accurately place the suture material right onto the muscle, and that’s the whole cornerstone of the technology is being able to use light guidance.
To deliver the suture material right onto the muscle as opposed to just passing a probe through the skin. It’s very unpredictable. So, you wouldn’t know if you were too deep, if you were too shallow. And the whole key to the success of the procedure is accuracy and, you know repro reproducibility. So, that’s how the light works.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Now, how much do you consider that minimally invasive, but there is a, an incision. Has that helped you to become The Surgeon Inventor?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah. Yeah. So, it’s, it’s minimally invasive, meaning that everything’s done through little needle punctures. And if there’s fat to be removed with liposuction, then we’d make a tiny little stab incision with a 15 blade.
And those are very small scalpel blades, so, those would be considered tiny little stab incisions or incisions. But they’re so, small we don’t even need to put a stitch in them. But the suture system, the MyEllevate. Place through tiny a little bit smaller than two-millimeter punctures, and none of them need a stitch.
They heal within just a few days, which is really cool.
Catherine Maley, MBA: The patients must love this, which must have helped you to become The Surgeon Inventor.
Gregory Mueller, MD: They, they love it. I’m, I’m telling you, I just saw someone today who she’s on the red carpet. You know, this is Beverly Hills and you know, she was just horrified of the idea of having incisions around the ears and she came in at the right time, because MyEllevate works for somebody who’s just starting to see some aging underneath the chin.
And so, we all use a laser to tighten the skin. I love using precision TX, which is a laser. Pass into the skin. So, now she can have a procedure without any detail, tale, signs, and a quick recovery too.
Catherine Maley, MBA: So, who’s the best patient demographic for this? You said who’s just now feeling it like they’re not facelift candidates, but there’s something going on.
Like how do you decide who, to help you become The Surgeon Inventor? Who’s good For face or for like MyEllevate versus, I don’t know, skin tightening or a face.
Gregory Mueller, MD: Sure, sure. No, and that’s, it’s a really good question. So, if you think of MyEllevate, let’s just think of it as a minimally invasive, percutaneous, light guided way. A lot of words to sew the neck muscles.
Okay. So, in a person who’s just starting to show some signs of aging, it’s a great way to sew the neck muscles by lifting and shaping them. Without opening the neck. And we would combine that with a laser to tighten the skin envelope. Or we could use radiofrequency, or we could use something like J Plasma or Renu Vion, or we could use Vaser to tighten the skin.
Now, in my practice here in Beverly Hills, the majority of my. Practice are facelifts and neck lifts, so, I still would remove skin around the ears, but I never opened the front of the neck, which is great. I always use MyEllevate to address the muscles, so, MyEllevate is really a way to address the muscles underneath the skin.
Without having to open the skin. So, it can be combined with skin removal or non-kin removal, or in a younger patient you can reshape somebody’s neck that they inherited from their parents. That’s not real desirable. You can give them like this new snatch jawline.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Wow. So, how did you present this to your patients to help you on your way to become The Surgeon Inventor?
Or did you, did you bother? Did you tell them that you have a different way of doing a neck lift? Cause some of this is patient education too, isn’t it? Aren’t you trying to explain? Well, I don’t, you don’t need a full open, you know, face lift. You just need a little something, something like, how are you explaining that and how does that relate to you becoming The Surgeon Inventor?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Sure, yeah. In, in the over 15 years of development of this technology in the very beginning you know, I had patients who complained about the little incision under the chin, and so, after I’d studied the area with the scope, I figured out that I could attach a suture onto like a rod, just a, you know, a normal surgical rod that you’d use in the operating room.
And I was able to just, Lace, the back part of the neck area without having to open it all the way back. So, the patients were very willing. They said, oh, that’s great. If you don’t have to open it all up, just use that. And then over a several year period, it just advanced where eventually I was able to lace it all and then we published a paper in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal in 2012, and that was using just the solid rod without a light on.
And the revision rate was like 15%. So, that’s a lot, right? You know, you don’t want to have 15% of your patients have to come back for a touch up. Nothing bad happened, but you know, they just didn’t have like perfect results like I want. So, then that’s where the light guidance came in. That’s where I realized we have to have the light.
So, we got our F D A clearance for the light, and that was in 2009. So, from 2009 until today., everything is done with the light guidance and now the revision rates are less than 5%. So, it’s pretty.
Catherine Maley, MBA: That’s fantastic. What’s the learning curve like? Cause it sounds complicated. What is it like and how did that help you to become The Surgeon Inventor?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, it’s, you know, what if a surgeon is expert in the anatomy of the neck, which is key, right?
Because we want safety and we want our patients to be well taken care of. That’s the number one criterion for someone who’s going to perform MyEllevate. Then the second one is the surgeon has to be knowledgeable and experienced. And doing liposuction of the neck. So, the, my elevator is, is performed in the exact same location as liposuction is, and that’s what makes it so, safe.
Because we’re not down around the nerves, we’re actually on the top of the muscle, which is safely away from the nerves, which lie deep to the muscle. So, any surgeon who is skilled in surgery of the neck and knows how to do liposuction is a great candidate. The learning curve is fast. Usually if surgeons do five to, you know, five to 10 procedures, they feel very, very skillful and very confident in their technique.
So, that’s, that’s the nice thing about it. It’s a quick learning curve.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Huh. I’m fascinated with that. I should have known that before I had my neck lift, which would have also helped you on your journey to become The Surgeon Inventor. That’s alright.
Gregory Mueller, MD: But see, we might use MyElllevate to address the muscles underneath, but you look amazing. So, they did a great job. They did a great job.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, it’s the, like, if the facelift starts going, is it like a post base look kind of thing as well, where you’re just trying to do touch ups to keep it all? How does this relate to you becoming The Surgeon Inventor?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, so, you know there, there’s, there’s actually four different patient groups who are great candidates for MyEllevate. Younger, genetically less desirable neck contours.
We can change that. Then the sort of the middle group, those are the ones where a laser will tighten the skin or radiofrequency or, or plasma. Then the third group is those are the patients with the facelifted neck lifts and in the fourth group you just brought up, that’s the patient who’s had a prior face lifter neck lift because the neck is usually the area to go first.
Is pretty resilient and lasts a long time, but the neck skin is thin and everything hangs underneath the jawline. So, MyEllevate’s a perfect way to prolong the results and do like a little jumpstart on a prior facelift or neck lift.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Okay. Good to know. I might need to, yeah.
Gregory Mueller, MD: All right. Come to Beverly Hills.
I would love to take care of you.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Don’t be surprised when I show up. Yeah, so, so, this is the part I’m really interested in. You can have a great idea, but selling. Selling an idea to another surgeon. A surgeon to a surgeon. It can go both ways, in terms of becoming The Surgeon Inventor. Either they trust you implicitly because you’re also a surgeon, or they can’t stand that you thought of something and they didn’t, so, there’s some resistance or they just don’t want to make a change.
How did you market this, or how did you introduce this to other surgeons?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, that, that’s like a great question, Catherine. I will tell you. It was hard. It was really hard and I’ll tell you why It was hard. It was hard because it was so, expensive. Oh, you could, to go through the FDA and to get patents and trademarks because you know you need to protect it.
Once you had this investment. You’ve got to protect it. So, you’ve got to do those things. And then to go through the F D A, it’s, it’s a very expensive process. We set up our own manufacturing process here in California, so, our factory is about 50 miles from Beverly Hills, right here in California. And literally, I was down there on the assembly line.
Making sure that each person who was putting it all together was trained to do it perfectly because it’s a medical device. So, the time and effort and money that went into it are just unbelievable. And that was something I did not really understand. So, that’s. One big part of it. Then the other one is, is getting surgeons to, to open their minds to think about a different way of doing things.
Surgeons by nature, which is a good thing, we’re very conservative and we’re very safe. You know, we don’t want to take risks with our patients. We don’t want to. Experiment with a patient. And we usually do what we were trained to do in our training programs. That’s like our foundation. So, it was enormously difficult to push the cart up the hill to get surgeons to see that it was a viable alternative and to get them to actually try it.
So, it, it’s tough. It’s very tough. And you know, you’ve got to publish papers. You’ve got to find reputable surgeons who believe in it, who will talk about it. It can’t just be from you. Because every surgeon thinks, you know, they look at you and they’re like, well, of course he thinks he believes in it. He has money in it, and he wants to make money.
And it’s not about that. It’s about. Getting something accepted in the medical world, which is conservative by nature and getting surgeons to adopt it. And, and it’s, it’s been quite a journey and I, and I feel like we’re just, you know, over the hump of that sinus Assure has helped a great deal. But it, it’s, it’s been amazing to just see the naysayers now are becoming believers, which is so, cool.
Catherine Maley, MBA: How many years did that take from the time you decided to introduce it to others, to now how many years was it and how did that help you to become The Surgeon Inventor?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, the journey originally was introducing what was called the trampoline Plasmo plasty. I wasn’t very good at branding back then because no one could ever remember that name. But anyway, that was the original name was a trampoline, floop Plasty, and it was a more complex procedure where we created like a shoe lacing underneath the jawline.
And it was hard to teach honestly. You know, I had mastered it by the time we were teaching it, but we didn’t really beta test it with surgeons, which was a wrong move. We learned. And so, no one could really learn the trampoline or remember what the name was. So, we published our paper, which had a 15% revision rate.
So, you could imagine surgeons were just like, Uhuh, I’m not interested. So, I spent the next decade. That paper was published in 2012. We just got another. Very important paper accepted in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal in 2022. So, there you go. There’s your 10 years describing the MyEllevate procedure.
Now we’re at a less than 5% revision rate and a very high patient satisfaction rate. So, a decade, Catherine, it took a long time. And was this self-funded? No, no. It was self-funded in the beginning. Yeah. When I came up with the idea here in my head back in 2005, my neighbor is a patent lawyer and he said, how convenient.
Yeah, I know that helps. He said, you better file your patents before you ever even hire an engineer. So, I actually filed all the patents in December of 2006, and then I hired a biomedical engineer and told him my idea for the tools and he was the person who could, you know, put them on paper and eventually, Add 3D images.
Oh yeah. And, and that’s what we did. And I self-funded it until 2008. And that was when we were getting ready to apply for f d A clearance. And that’s when I realized, oh my God, this is so, out of my league. Lots of money. We have about 20 investors who stuck with me the whole way since 2008.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Wow. Okay. That’s very interesting too. So, you know, when it, it sounds like when the government gets involved, the budget increases, which may or may not help with becoming The Surgeon Inventor. Oh yeah. Maybe that’s your boundary there.
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, yeah. I, I think if somebody has an idea and so, on, it’s, it definitely, you, you definitely, as, as surgeons, you know, and, and we make a good living and so, on.
But it, it’s a very expensive process. We’re talking millions and millions of dollars, not hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions and millions of dollars to get it to where it was. When we sold it to sinister in August of 21.
Catherine Maley, MBA: So, you have this this procedure that you have down, your patients love it. You love it. It’s good.
Do you just call like your best buddies that you have and say, you know what, I’ve got this, this new procedure that will help me to become The Surgeon Inventor. Let me show it to you and then come on by and take a look at it. Like, were you beta testing just one-off doctors or it sounds like you did the papers. Did you also then get on the podium and start talking about it?
I’m still interested in how do you build credibility. In this industry that’s a really tight knit group and tough to open up to, you know?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Sure, sure. Yeah. What we did is we did all those things. We, you know, got podium time and, you know, that was sometimes our company, we would sponsor a meeting, so, we would have an exhibit there.
and you know, they have non c M E talks so, you can, you know, get on the podium and, and you can present to a group of surgeons. And we did that just to kind of assess the level of interest. And then there was a meeting out here that’s a meeting in the spring where we did our beta testing. So, we, we were a major sponsor of the meeting and right here in my office, in the surgery center, we had live surgery as part of the.
And so, that was a great way to bring some of those surgeons into the operating room. And what we did then is we really paid attention to their feedback. We had them fill out questionnaires about what it was like to watch the procedure, where they saw there were deficiencies in us explaining what we were doing.
And then we used all that information to help us shape a training program. And then I would do cases here and we would invite surgeons from the community just to come by if they wanted to just see it. And that was hard, you know, because surgeons are busy, you know? So, to get somebody to come over even for an hour is not an easy thing to do.
So, it was kind of friends, like you were saying earlier, friends and surgeons who, you know, that I respect and they respect me, would come over and look at it and then we’d get feedback from them.
Catherine Maley, MBA: So, now, so, you’re doing that in Beverly Hills. How were you able to scale, in terms of becoming The Surgeon Inventor? And move this throughout the —
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, I think probably a big step for us honestly, was we, we knew that there, there are two surgeons who are, are major KOLs and, and you and I have talked about them and I, and I, I know you know them, but Barry de Bernardo, who’s a plastic surgeon up in Montclair, New Jersey, and Jason Posner, who’s down in Boca Raton at this current time.
In the world of plastic surgery, they are known as folks who really have a grasp on new technology. They, the industry likes to go to them to talk to them about where they think things will fit. So, so, we arranged a meeting where I could meet with them and, and we went down to my partner in the company.
He’s not a physician, he’s a movie maker. He and I went down to San Diego. To the Aesthetic Society meeting, and we met with Dr. Posner and Dr. D Bernardo at 7:00 AM or maybe it was 6:00 AM before the meetings even started. And I had my laptop and showed them before and after’s, showed them a little surgical video and they seemed interested.
And then the next step was I went to Boca Raton and Dr. D Bernardo was there, and Dr. Poer, and we did some cases together. You know, I kind of walked them through it and they loved. They loved it. And so, then they were just wonderful in, in helping us kind of shape, you know, how we would get it introduced.
They both, you know, became consultants for the company, but I think that was a, that was a key step. That was a giant leap right there with them because you have to get it out of your realm into the realm of people who are known as people who are good at looking at new technologies.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Mm-hmm. and well, and the plastic surgeon’s world is different than the facial plastic surgeon’s world.
That’s different than the cosmetic surgeon’s world. So, do you tap into all, or are you just focused on plastic surgeons, or who do you, what kind of surgeon do you have to be to perform MyEllevate, and how does that relate to you becoming The Surgeon Inventor?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, so, I, you know, the two major groups for sure are the plastic surgeons, my group, and then the facial plastic surgeons, because we identified those groups as the most proficient and expert at surgery of the nac and, and the ones that would be, you know, safe and well-trained with a great foundation of education.
You have to be realistic and realize that there are other surgeons who are doing necklaces and facelifts and liposuction of the neck. So, we kind of hand select and, and seek out surgeons who might be oculoplastics because they’re, you know, they’re very well trained as well in anatomy of the neck. And then also dermatologic surgeons and, you know, just like everything.
There are great plastic surgeons and not so, great plastic surgeons. There are some oculoplastic surgeons who are great, you know, and some who aren’t or whatever. So, we really try to vet and find the ones who are proficient in this area, because we want safety and we want efficacy. So, we started out in the facial plastics and plastics world, and then once you’re out there and you’re on the podium, And you get some facial plastic surgeons doing it and they love it.
Then they get, you know, they, they may speak about it on the podium, which is very effective because it’s not my voice. It’s another person’s voice and that’s how you make it go. And that’s kind of how it’s happened. It’s been very organic that way.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, it was organic, yet you were able to scale enough to get sin assures you know, attention to become The Surgeon Inventor?
Yeah. So, how did that happen? Cause that was your big coup, wasn’t it?
Gregory Mueller, MD: I mean, yeah. Oh yeah. So, it was. It was crazy, you know, because we were, we had beta tested at the meeting here in Los Angeles, so, we knew we had a training program that would work. We fixed a few little glitches in it and we thought, okay, it’s Showtime.
And we had Barry de Bernardo and Jason Posner. We had some great podium time at meetings that were coming up, and then the little thing hit us called the. And so, it was like early 2020 and we’re like, oh no, we’re finally ready. And you know, it’s been over a decade and now this is happening. And I remember calling my partner in the company Ted Galliano, who makes movies, and I told him, I said, I think we should just shut down the manufacturing and conserve cash.
And he said, no, no., he said, and he makes movies so, he understands big productions. He said, oh, no, no, we need to manufacture a lot of kits. Get them on the shelf because he said there’s going to be a supply chain shortage. So, he said, this is the time to do it. And the factory, they were so, happy because we were the only company who were building up.
even though the, you know, the world was shutting down and that was the best thing we ever did. And what we did is we, we did like a virtual launch. So, we had these Zoom meetings because we knew doctors were not working full-time. We knew they were at home. We knew Ed, the culture was switching to Zoom. So, we had these webinars and we had them, we had this cadence going where we had something going every couple of weeks at the same time.
And we built this following. And then we, we had developed some nurse trainers who would actually go and help the doctor with the kit to teach them how to use it. And so, we were able to do virtual training, do live surgeries that we would, you know, show on Zoom like you and I are doing right now. That was enough where doctors saw it, saw they were interested, and then they would buy the kids and the nurse would go to their office and help them with their first two cases.
And, and it worked. We had 30% growth in revenues every quarter for six quarters. Oh my gosh. 30, 30, 30. Oh yeah. So, it attracted the attention you can imagine of not just Cynosure, but three other major companies and, you know, through non-disclosures. They can’t say who, but anyway. We, we were negotiating with all of them and we were doing all these little, you know, meetings and, and whatnot and signed Assure.
They were the first ones who threw a proposal out and said, we don’t want you to talk to anybody. And so, So, we could’ve, we had a quiet period and, and that’s how it all came to be. And, and, We’ve vetted the other companies, but we felt sinus was the best match for us because they knew that this technology had to have a slow introduction.
It had to be done in the right way where we chose the right surgeons and trained them.
Catherine Maley, MBA: I think it would be that the quality control. Yes. Cause the last thing you need is bad. You know? Bad stories out there. Bad, bad reviews, people complaining that would be bad for becoming The Surgeon Inventor.
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, and you know, we’ve seen it, I mean, I know you’ve seen it in your lifetime and so, have I, where a new hot technology comes to market and the company over expands and they don’t really train well, and then suddenly you’ve got bad complications.
So, we knew that was not the model we wanted to follow. We wanted to follow a slower buildup, you know, which is kind of hard, you know, because everybody’s in the business, you know, especially corporations to make money. But I loved it, that sinus. Sure. They totally were on the same path as us and they continue to be, which I love.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Yeah. Now, when you sold to Cynosure, do you come with that package or how does that work and how does that relate to you becoming The Surgeon Inventor?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Well, I come with it sort of, no, no. So, I’m totally, so, the company was, or the technology, the, MyEllevate technology was completely purchased by Sinus Assure, and that was a clean deal. And so, I no longer run the company or anything, which is such a wonderful.
But I have a separate deal with Sin Assure, which was integral to the whole thing going through where I’m a consultant for the company, so, I just consult for Sin Assure. And the deal was some cash up upfront and then some shares and Sin Assure overall, and then the company. Our startup company gets some royalty payments along the way, depending on performance, and there’s some milestones.
But I’m not directly tied to it anymore, which is great. But I am a consultant and it’s to my benefit and to the company’s benefit that I help them, you know, and shepherd it through. So, that’s all part of the deal.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Wow, good for you on becoming The Surgeon Inventor. How long from time that they, that you ta that you got on their radar to the time you all signed, how long does that.
Gregory Mueller, MD: Oh gosh. The due diligence process with, with them was about six months. That was the quiet period. So, it took so, much time and Oh, it was intense and I’m so, glad we did everything by the book. I’m just so, happy with that. And I can remember along the way because we had people who would come and go, who would, you know, consultants, regulatory people.
So, me of them were not as like above board or like, you know, What I want to say, conservative about everything as we were, and we would always insist that everything would be done by the book because when the due diligence came down, everything was checked into. So, I’m very happy we did that along the way.
So, I would say from them talking to us to the sale of the company was about. 10 months. Wow.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Yeah. And you’re tied up for that time. You can’t talk to anybody else so, that you need that to work to become The Surgeon Inventor, right?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. So, we, yeah, we just continued on doing what we were doing and you know, we just had to, it was a quiet period and we couldn’t really talk much about it.
The quiet period was towards the end, you know, they, they did a lot of sorts of upfront checking on things. So, I would say the quiet period was maybe three to four months. Something like, Or we could not talk to anybody else about it. We couldn’t tell anybody that we were in process with sinus or we just had to like lay low and tell people we were just going to keep doing it on our own.
Catherine Maley, MBA: So, that’s fantastic. So, wasn’t taking up your time while becoming The Surgeon Inventor?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yes, I was a slave to it and you know, I didn’t even realize, but you know, right when we sold the company on August 4th, 2021, and I can’t even tell you from August until December last year, which was 21, my income rose so, much. From just working here, I never realized how much opportunity loss I was experiencing until that big hungry horse was like taken out by sinus shirt.
I just didn’t realize, you know, because you, you’re so, distracted when you’re running a company like that. It is a major full-time job and then you try to run your practice, which is also a major full-time job. I, I’m so, happy that we sold it. It’s unbelievable.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, it was 10 years coming or 20 years, two, eight until 22 on your road to becoming The Surgeon Inventor?
Gregory Mueller, MD: So, yes. A good 14 years. It was time, Catherine. Oh my gosh.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Yes. So, so, then let’s talk about Beverly Hills. You have a practice that facilitated you becomng The Surgeon Inventor. How did you, how many hours were you able to work there? Like, how are you, were you swinging this because Beverly Hills, it’s not like you’re in Ohio where you’re the only surgeon.
You know, you’re in the middle of Beverly Hills and it can’t be more competitive and those people are eating and sleeping and drinking plastic surgery and now you’re kind of dabbling cause you’re, you know, you know, tapping through both. How did you handle that on your journey to become The Surgeon Inventor?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Well, I, I think the, you know, the way it all works is if I had invented something that was non-plastic surgery industry, I think that would be a different story because that would’ve been a huge distraction and I think the practice would’ve suffered tremendously.
But since I’m the end user of the technology and my patients who are right here are benefiting from it, it was kind of cool because the two worlds were together. Very much collided. So, running a medical device company, perfecting a technique and technology and treating my patients with that same one, which attracted a lot of patients because patients loved it, that I was an innovator.
They loved it, that I didn’t open the knack. So, I think that’s what kept it all going. and they knew, I mean they all knew it was in my blood that this was my big thing that I was doing. So, they knew I had obligations outside and they stuck with it and they were just so, and they were so, proud about the whole thing too.
There, it’s like a family for me here. So, everyone supported, which was great, but I’m so, glad now I’m not doing it well.
Catherine Maley, MBA: I kept hearing MyEllevate cause I met all the conferences and I’m like, what is with is me. And then your name was attached. I went, oh my God. I had no idea and how it helped you to become The Surgeon Inventor. I did not.
Gregory Mueller, MD: Two and two together.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Fine. Not for a long time. So, what advice would you give to another surgeon who, you know, who thinks this is a good idea when, when you have a good idea that may help them become a “14-year overnight success” or similar? Sure. Any, any advice or any mistakes you made that you would tell somebody you watch out for?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah. I, I would say that the major things that I learned from this are number one.
It takes twice as long and twice as much money to get to where you want to be. So, you need to be patient Number two it’s, it’s a huge opportunity taker because as surgeons, you know, you know, we are paid really by time, you know, because our time in the or, which is very. And if you’re doing things like a startup company on the side, you’re missing out on some major income in the or.
So, I think recognizing that it is going to be very expensive and you’re going to have a lot of opportunity loss is very important. And then probably the biggest lesson I learned was the beta testing. You know, being a surgeon innovator. By the time you get something to where you think it’s ready for market, you will have mastered it.
But you have to remember that your audience, which are other surgeons, they know nothing about it. So, you have to be able to get into their shoes and do some beta testing and get feedback from them, and use that feedback to help you fine tune the procedure because it can be as elegant as ever. But if you can’t teach it, there’s no commercial value to it at all.
Catherine Maley, MBA: So, true. So, do your, in your practice, is it, are you doing basic, do you do body and face or are you pretty much just focused on the face now to help you become The Surgeon Inventor?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, I used to do everything. But you know when, when I started not opening the neck, the word got out and people would send their friends because they loved it cause they didn’t have scars here and they love their.
So, mainly above the shoulders that’s probably 90% of my work. And then 10% would be, you know, like some lipo sculpting or things like that.
Catherine Maley, MBA: And then how did you for in Beverly Hills just how do you market yourself in Beverly Hills? How the heck do you stand out amongst everybody else to become The Surgeon Inventor? Any tips on that?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, I mean, I, I’m a little bit older than the younger social media savvy surgeons, you know, because they, they, you know, I look at their Facebook and their Instagram, they have like a hundred thousand followers. It’s like, I have 5,000 which I think is a lot, but, you know, that’s bigger than my hometown.
But they, but I think. Being a good doctor and taking good care of my patients and listening to them. And also, you know, I’m not a big social media person. I’m, I’m not really good at it, you know, and that’s not where our patients come from. But I think just taking care of patients and especially taking care of them if they have a problem.
You know, no surgery is perfect, no surgeon is perfect. And I think some of my best referrals, in fact I know this have come from patients who’ve had a complication because I was there for them. You know, and they know that. And you know, a lot of people have had other things done and their doctors they had before.
Just kind of didn’t show up, you know? And I think that’s a big thing. And, and being in Beverly Hills, yes, there’s a lot of us here, but I think being a good person and looking after your patients and realizing you are human and there are going to be little stumbles every now and then, but, you know, helping the, helping your patients out when they have a little problem, I think is key.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Yeah. Do you miss Nebraska, in relation to you becoming The Surgeon Inventor?
Gregory Mueller, MD: I’m so, glad I’m from Nebraska. I think it’s a great place to be from and I love going back every year cause my family is there. I just think if I were in Nebraska and I came up with a surgical idea people that are more conservative, I think they would’ve said like, oh, he’s kind of a kooky doctor.
And you know, maybe that’s where it would’ve laid and it would’ve been done. I feel like in LA and California, I feel like. This is the technology capital of the world. California is. So, I feel like I am blessed that I’m in this city and that I have friends who make movies and who make a lot more money than I do who could see the potential of my dream, you know?
And were willing to support it. I think I would’ve had a harder time in a more conservative environment. And I feel like that’s Nebraska’s a more conservative place, you know? And so, I, I do, I love it out here because of that, and I think it’s, it’s helped me realize my dreams.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, you had a lot of time to think on how to become The Surgeon Inventor, you know, when you live in Nebraska there’s probably, you have a lot of downtime as a kid.
You know, there’s not a lot going on. Probably, so, you just got to think more often.
Gregory Mueller, MD: Oh, but Catherine, remember I was building the washer dryer action indicator for my mother. So, I’ve always been a little bit of a busy bee!
Catherine Maley, MBA: That and have that other oVio going on, which helped you to become The Surgeon Inventor. So, because you’re not going to stop inventing, are you, is there always going to be a little project going on behind the…?
Gregory Mueller, MD: I mean, it’s expensive. As I told you earlier, that’s one of my teaching points of this whole process is realize it’s twice as much and takes twice as long.
I have the imaging system, the oVio360 Imaging System, which I’m very proud of, and it’s very related to MyEllevate and, and I’ll tell you why. When we published the paper in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal in 20., when I was assembling the patient’s photographs for that paper even though I was very mindful and was trying to make sure they were all standardized, they’re just not.
When you’ve got a camera and you’re holding it and your nurse might take them one day and you might take them the next day, the angles are a bit off and stuff like that. I was so, frustrated with that. So, I built a camera for myself, basically putting the camera on a boom. And putting the backdrop on the other end of the boom and a little lazy Susan in the middle, so, who just rotate around the face or the body.
And I did that so, I could, number one, always have standardized photographs, but also so, that I could really study this neck procedure to perfect it. As I was building it, I thought, wow, a movie camera would be better on this boom, because then I could look at motion, you know, and see how when someone smiles, how the facelift alters the face, or with breast implants, how the breast implants move when someone flexes their peck muscles.
So, I built the first camera and my investors for the neck procedure for my. Remember I told you they make movies. They saw that camera and they said, oh, we’ll pay to develop that. And I was like, oh my God. I built the camera for myself, not to be commercialized. And they’re like, we’ve never seen anything like it.
So, that’s how oVio was born. And they said, we will pay to develop it. And we did. And we. You know, my partner in the company, he was president of post-production at Fox which is the big movie studio here, and he hired one of the engineers who did some of the engineering for Avatar to really perfect the camera system.
So, the one I have in my lobby here is so, beautiful. It’s, it’s built out of air aircraft, aluminum, and it just sweeps around the patient and whisper quiet and it does these beautiful images. So, That’s my other invention and we’re you know, right now marketing and selling those. I’m a consultant for that company.
I don’t manage that company. I learned right from the MyEllevate that I don’t want to run a company; I need to run my practice because this is where I love to be. So, I do consulting for the imaging company, which is really fun.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Boy, have you evolved on your journey to become The Surgeon Inventor? Dear Award dear. Good for you. You know, just congratulations.
I’ve just been watching you; your career and it’s just been amazing. I, I just, I wish I had a hidden idea myself, and I just, I, I do, but they’re never like consumer, like I, I like to prefer to do things very complicated, you know, that like only a hundred people need, you know, I need to go, I need to find something big, big, big.
Yeah. So, my last question What? Tell us something we don’t know about you.
Gregory Mueller, MD: Wow. What you don’t know about me. What would I say? I love to travel. I’m certainly loving teaching MyEllevate now because I get to travel the world. I just got back from Australia. This morning I was on with Dubai, and I’m hoping to go there early 23 to introduce MyEllevate to the Middle East, and then we’ll be off to Singapore and then China after that.
So, I, I just, I think. What people don’t really know about me is how much I love to travel and how much I have not traveled this far in my life because I’ve been working so, much. But I’m, I’m excited about that part of my life and you know, there probably will be another innovation down the road.
But, you know, I think the main thing is I love doing plastic surgery. I’m more excited about my job today than I was when I started 25 years ago.
Catherine Maley, MBA: That’s…not everyone can say that. Good for you and your path to become The Surgeon Inventor.
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, and I think it’s a, due to a couple things, I think because for so, many years I was doing the startup that it was, it was quite a distraction and it just feels so, good.
And so, you know full of serenity to be able to just focus on taking care of people and not have all this interference of worrying about cash flow with the startup company and this engineer quit, or that person quit, or the factory’s not working right now, I can just really focus. So, I’m, I’m, I’m just loving my profession right now and love my family too.
I’m really close with my family. That’s another thing that, you know, I spend a lot of time with them and I don’t know, I’m just excited to see where the next chapter takes me.
Catherine Maley, MBA: Right. Well, you are busy with being The Surgeon Inventor and it’s so, nice. I hope to see you at some of the meetings coming up now that we’re back again, right?
Yes. If other surgeons want to get ahold of you, what’s the best way to do?
Gregory Mueller, MD: Yeah, I think that the best way would be to you know, I’m on Instagram, I’m a little bit addicted, even though I’m not good at it. And my Instagram is @TheNeckDoctor, and it’s all one word. People can direct message me on Instagram.
That’s a great way. Or they can just call the office here in Beverly Hills and the number here is (310) 273-9800. That’s a great way to get ahold of me. And other than that, it’s just I’m easy to get in touch with. Okay,
Catherine Maley, MBA: Everybody that’s going to wrap it up for us today, a Beauty and the Biz and this episode on “The Surgeon Inventor”.
If you’ve got any questions or feedback for Dr. Mueller, you can reach out to his website at, DrGregMueller.com.
A big thanks to Dr. Mueller for sharing his experience on becoming the surgeon inventor.
And if you have any questions or feedback for me, you can go ahead and leave them at my website at www.CatherineMaley.com, 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.
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-End transcript for “The Surgeon Inventor — with Gregory Mueller, MD”.
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