A different kind of medicine: 5 questions with Quintessa founder Dr. Andrew Campbell

It was 2002 when Andrew Campbell, MD, a facial plastic surgeon, purchased an intense pulsed light machine so he could treat patients with sun damaged skin more efficiently than with a harsh chemical peel. This purchase helped him realize a whole new side of medicine.

"We were able to do multiple treatments with the [intense pulsed light machine] over several months and give them similar results to the chemical peel with no downtime at all," Dr. Campbell said. "This started the non-surgical aspect of my facial plastic surgery practice."

Three years later, Quintessa came into inception. Dr. Campbell carved Quintessa out of a larger surgical center in Delafield, Wis., to help patients receive effective aesthetic treatments without the inconvenience and downtime of surgery.

Dr. Campbell said the noninvasive aspect of medicine has grown rapidly since Quintessa first launched in 2005, but much of the decision-making power has been taken away from surgeons.

"As more and more non-plastic surgeons and non-physicians get into the aesthetic market, it is the surgeon that suffers. I truly feel that the industry in general is taking more and more away from the surgeon, so I've decided that Quintessa is going to help surgeons," he said. "How do we do this? By using the team approach to aesthetic medicine. We have nurse providers that do injectables like Botox and filler, others that do lights and lasers, [like] laser hair removal. These non-surgical procedures keep our centers busy and allow for cross referrals when needed."

"Essentially, Quintessa is able to give patients all the options and allow the patient to choose what is best for them at that time. If you only have surgery, or if you only have non-surgical modalities, the patient won't get exposed to all their options, and they may end up getting something that is far less effective than they would like," he added.

To learn more about this growing area of medicine, Becker's Hospital Review caught up with Quintessa founder Dr. Campbell.

Editor's notes: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: Can you explain Quintessa? What is its mission?

Dr. Andrew Campbell: Quintessa's mission is twofold. For our patients, through the enhancement of natural beauty, we help them look great so they can feel great, have confident beauty and a great relationship with themselves. Our hope is that our patients will then go and make a positive impact on every life they touch. To our surgeons, Quintessa helps passionate providers have incredible careers and a great work-life balance.

Q: What has been the most rewarding part of Quintessa?

AC: I have been incredibly impressed with the thankfulness of our patients. After speaking to many of them, it became clear that we gave them back something that was terribly missing: themselves. Everyone has a sense of self — we know what we look like without looking in a mirror. The problem is our outside appearances often change significantly, yet our inner sense of self does not. This means we look into a mirror and think, "Who is that person looking back at me?" We don't have a good relationship with ourselves because we don't really recognize ourselves. When we rejuvenate someone, or give them the body they used to have or always wanted to have, they now look in the mirror and see themselves. We gave them back to themselves. It's incredibly powerful and patients absolutely love it.

Q: What is a typical day at Quintessa like for you?

AC: I'm a facial plastic surgeon that specializes in facial rejuvenation, so my typical day would involve consultations with patients that desire rejuvenation, and then performing the rejuvenating procedures. Most surgeries I can perform in the office setting while patients are awake. At first, that kind of freaks them out until I describe exactly what's going to happen. They may be put on some valium or some nitrous oxide for any anesthetic injections, then after that, there's not much to feel — it's like a haircut. Patients might feel some pulling and hear some noises like scissors, but nothing hurts. Everyone loves the fact that they don't have to go to an operating room.

For more complex problems, I do take some patients to a surgical center where I can perform more advanced techniques to give them a result they will celebrate, but most procedures can be performed in the office. Since we have providers that do Botox and filler, and lights and lasers, I really concentrate on the consultations and surgeries. Since we have five locations and two other plastic surgeons besides me, I do spend a couple hours a week in meetings to make sure the company is running efficiently. I also spend some time "hunting" for other plastic surgeons who would benefit from joining the Quintessa team.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you've encountered running Quintessa?

AC: The biggest challenge for most practices and businesses is finding great people. A company is only as good as its employees. We have an interesting and very effective hiring process that relies solely on culture or personality to determine who will be a great fit with Quintessa. It has worked extremely well for us.

Q: What else should Becker's know about Quintessa?  

AC: We are in a rapidly growing aspect of medicine that has few regulations in most states. Our competition isn't other plastic surgeons; it's non-physicians. This makes it difficult to show our expertise since pretty much everyone advertises that they are the "best." The public is being duped into believing that they can go to their hair stylist and get Botox and filler. It's a little ridiculous. But unless stricter laws are implemented, we can only continue to do what we do best: give patients amazing results and at the same time, give them an amazing experience. Word of mouth has worked extremely well for us in the past and it will continue to allow us to be successful and grow into the future.

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