Consultations For My Hernia and Diastasis Recti Surgery

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I started doing my own research for a surgeon in my area after my last appointment with a general surgeon. I learned that there is a big difference between a general surgeon, a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon in terms of their training and qualifications. It was important to me that the person I selected to do my surgery was a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Also, if the doctor was certified before 1995, it was important to me whether they maintained their certificate by voluntarily participating in continuing learning and practice improvement programs. Certificates issued before 1995 do not have an expiration date so doctors with those certificates aren’t required to undergo the training programs, whereas the certificates issued after 1995 expire after 10 years. This is how I narrowed down my list of potential plastic surgeons in my area.

When I first started my search, I was interested in the Penn Plastic Surgery Chief Resident's Clinic. But, I was told that chief residents couldn't repair my hernia via the clinic. Instead, they referred me to one of the plastic surgery faculty. Even though the faculty members supervise and assist the chief residents in the clinic, they have their own separate offices. I was scheduled for a consultation on January 26 with Dr. Fischer. The consultation fee was $125. I assumed that he met all my requirements. But, when I verified just for my sanity, I learned that he did not. I checked the other faculty members as well to see if I could select someone else, but many of them weren't certified and if they were, their certifications were not being actively maintained. So, the Penn Clinic was no longer an option.

I had another consultation on February 5. This time it was with Dr. Sean Wright of Wright Plastic Surgery in Media, PA. I had to pay $20 for the consultation. He met all of my requirements. I would say that he had very good beside manner as well. He listened to my concerns and he seemed pretty knowledgeable about the procedure. He said the surgery would last no more than 2.5 hours. Although his office is located at Riddle Hospital, he performs the surgery at Crozer Brinton Lake surgical center, which is about 15 minutes away (possibly more if you're familiar with the congestion of traffic in that area.) He believe he could close my hernia, but I would not have a belly button. PAUSE. Instead, he would refer me to a tattoo artist after the surgery to have a belly button tattooed on my stomach. PAUSE AGAIN. I never realized how much I liked having a belly button until he said that. After the examination, he gave me a cost sheet. For abdominoplasty with repair of my umbilical hernia and removal of the umbilicus, he was going to charge me $8180 (surgeon's fee: $6000; Operating Room: $1250; Anesthesia: $930). The price also included liposuction. He didn't mention it, but when I asked him whether he would be doing liposuction, he said I didn't have a lot of fat on my stomach, but he would lipo my love handles. He never asked for my insurance info.

I had another consultation on February 25 with Dr. Ryan Hoffman of the MainLine Institute of Plastic Surgery. His office is located at Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood, PA. The consultation was free. When I scheduled the appointment, I was given access to a patient portal that would allow me to see a summary of the doctor's notes from my visit and also another patient portal that had videos, articles and other helpful resources regarding the surgery. During my appointment, one of the doctor's assistants took my dreaded 'before' pictures and I was told that I could access them on the portal. Soon after, Dr. Hoffman came in to examine me. He said that my separation was "the worst he had ever seen." As he was examining me, he kept saying "yeah, this is bad, this is very bad." But, he reassured me he could address all my issues. He explained IN DETAIL what he could do for me. He basically answered all the questions I had before I even asked them, which I appreciated. He made me feel so comfortable that I forgot I was undressed talking to him. (Oh, and if you're not comfortable with being alone with a male doctor in the examination room, his female assistant stays in there with you.)

There was a touch screen on the wall and he brought up my 'before' pictures. He drew what he was going to do on the pictures so I would have an idea of what I would look like. He said I didn't have fat in my abdominal area, but he would lipo my sides to give me better results. He said he always does liposuction when doing an abdominoplasty because it helps him close the gap better. After the examination, I met with his surgical coordinator, who gave me a copy of the cosmetic package plan, which contained all of the fees for the surgery. She said that my hernia portion of the surgery would be paid for by my insurance company. Unlike Dr. Wright's office, Dr. Hoffman's office requested my insurance information. The surgeon's fee is $7500, but RealSelf members get a $500 discount. The fee for the hospital is $1235-$1525, depending on how long the surgery takes. The fee for anesthesia is $420. If you stay overnight, the hospital fee is $1125. Since I have a hernia, my insurance would cover the overnight fee. There is a $500 non-refundable deposit that has to be paid to reserve the procedure. It is applied towards the cost of the surgery.

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