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Characteristics of Excellence in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons – Part II

Kenneth Sanders

Compassion: the ability to understand the emotional state of another person or oneself. Not to be confused with empathy, compassion has the added component of having a wish to alleviate or at least reduce the suffering of another. Empathy is the ability to put oneself in the other person’s place. Although compassion and empathy are two separate things, having compassion for someone can lead to feeling empathy for another person. Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feels motivated to relieve that suffering.

Being sensitive to a patient’s individual needs is crucial, especially with those patients who have experienced a medical trauma or have a birth defect. Identifying with the needs and desires of the patient is essential in the process of helping them achieve their goals. Dr. Francis Peabody of Harvard wrote nearly a century ago, “The secret to the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.”

Especially in the specialty of facial reconstructive and plastic surgery, a surgeon is required to apply scientific skill and artistic talent. You could go further and say that the art practiced in this field has two sides: surgical artistry and the art of being attentively present to the patient in a manner that enables well being, treatment adherence, and recovery. In the latter, “compassionate care is the essence of this art.”

On countless occasions in my practice, I have experienced a stronger, more trusting relationship with my patients when they are made more comfortable in talking openly about their desires and needs. As I come to better understand their surgical and cosmetic expectations, I can do more to help them achieve their desired outcomes. This requires compassion on my part and it’s not something I have struggles with or have to put on an “act” to achieve. I have always had a caring personality. Helping people is one of the reasons I went in to medicine. I believe it’s one of the reasons I’ve been successful in my practice.

While being compassionate is an important part of being a good doctor, I don’t let the compassion and empathy I have for my patients interfere with my objectivity. I have no problems explaining to a patient why a particular procedure wouldn’t be beneficial to them or firmly instructing them in following my prescribed post treatment care.

I am here to help you address any concern you have with the utmost compassion and respect. No matter how big or how small, if it bothers you, let’s work together on making it better. I encourage you to schedule a no-obligation appointment to learn about your options. I welcome the opportunity to help you identify the specific procedures that will help you look and feel your best.

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