The influence of career stage, practice type and location, and physician's sex on surgical practices among board-certified plastic surgeons performing breast augmentation

Nina S Naidu, Patricia A Patrick
Aesthetic Surgery Journal 2011, 31 (8): 941-52

BACKGROUND: Breast augmentation is the most commonly performed cosmetic surgical procedure in the United States, but surgeon preferences in terms of technique and postoperative care regimen vary widely.

OBJECTIVES: The authors investigated the influence of career stage, practice type and location, and physician's sex on surgical technique preferences among board-certified plastic surgeons performing breast augmentation.

METHODS: In October 2009, an online survey was e-mailed to all active members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons practicing within the United States. Response frequencies were calculated and correlated with surgeon demographics.

RESULTS: From the pool of 4737 respondents, 898 responses were received (18.9%). Surgeons performing breast augmentation were more frequently male, between 46 and 65 years old, and had practiced for at least 20 years in solo private practice in a suburban setting. Surgical volume most frequently consisted of 10% to 25% cosmetic surgery, with 10 to 50 breast augmentations performed per year. Surgeons in practice for five years or less were more likely to use smooth, round silicone gel-filled implants, to select implants smaller than 300 cc, to use the dual-plane pocket, and to recommend yearly follow-up. Surgeons in practice for more than 20 years were more likely to select saline implants, utilize the subglandular plane, perform closed capsulotomy, and place drains. Surgeons at academic centers performed fewer breast augmentation surgeries and placed smaller implants than those in private practice, while surgeons in suburban locations performed more breast augmentations than those in urban or rural locations. Surgeons in the West performed the greatest number of augmentations, although the largest-sized implants were placed in the Southwest. Compared with men, women surgeons appeared significantly less likely to use saline implants, were less likely to perform more than 100 breast augmentations per year, and were significantly more likely to place implants less than 300 cc.

CONCLUSIONS: Surgical preferences were associated with years in practice and included differences in technique and postoperative care. Practice location was associated with differences in procedural volume, implant size, incision location, and recommended follow-up time, while practice type was related to surgical volume, implant size, implant location, and percentage of cosmetic surgery performed.

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