From the American College of Mohs Surgery annual meeting, Austin, Texas
Plastic surgeons have their own TV show and have their own walking billboards in the form of prettified, petrified and enhanced celebrities–some of whom prove the adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity (hello? I’m talking to you, Joan Rivers). Mohs surgeons can be true artists — removing potentially disfiguring and deadly skin cancers, often curing the disease, and leaving hardly a trace. But they don’t even get a hello-how-are-you from patients who are referred to them, complained a surgeon here.
Tired of being the perpetually passed over ugly stepsister, Dr. Vinh Q. Chung decided to quiz folks on why they always seemed to want a “plastic surgeon,” even as they’d been referred to the Mohs specialist.
The popular myth seems to be that “anyone with plastic surgeon in their title can perform magic,” said a disgruntled Dr. Chung.
In his survey of about 500 patients, a significant majority said they thought plastic surgeons were more highly trained and more experienced than Mohs surgeons and would never leave a scar. (Even though Mohs guys get three years of derm residency plus another year of specialized Mohs training.)
But when these patients were asked to look at photos of a scar, no one saw any particular magic. Given four photos labeled “plastic surgeon”, “Mohs surgeon”, “general surgeon” and “unknown”, patients all pretty much had the same opinion of each picture – yeah, looks good to me.
Maybe not a giant vote of confidence in any particular subspecialty, but Dr. Chung felt vindicated. He said that maybe in another 5 to 7 years, the general public might actually preferentially ask for Mohs surgeons when faced with large skin cancers.
Hey, anything’s possible. I just wouldn’t expect FX to be knocking on your door looking for help on the “Melanoma Madness” pilot.
– Alicia Ault (On Twitter @aliciaault)