Congratulations to you Dr. Tutela on being the City Winner of West Orange in Plastic Surgery 2015! And how excited are you?
I am very excited. First, I would like to tell you it is my pleasure to do the interview and thank you so much for having me. I am very excited about the award It is nice to know trying to do your best at work and provide good care for patients, and your colleagues, and your colleagues’ patients, and then to be recognized for that is always a humbling experience and very appreciated. I spent a lot of time with my patients both before and after surgery, and it is really nice to know that both them and my physician colleagues recognize and appreciate that.
You have received great reviews from your peers in the industry. So what was your first thought on Doctor’s Choice Awards?
I thought it was really a nice setup where they are basically based on recommendations from your own peers. So it is not necessarily just that your patients appreciate your work in your field, but actually other physicians. The award is really kind of given based on the review of other physicians in your area. What is nice about that is it really kind of points to the type of practice that is run and the way that everybody works together to take care of patients. A lot of time in plastic surgery it is seen as kind of a sole practitioner field, but in reality I work with a lot of physicians to take care of their patients. For them to recognize that I am doing an exceptional job or going above and beyond to take care of patients is always nice to hear back from them.
What made you decide to become a plastic surgeon?
I have always wanted to be a plastic surgeon ever since I was a little kid, and actually before I even knew what it meant. My father was a plastic surgeon before me and I just wanted to be just like that, whatever that was. So as I grew up and actually learned more about it, I came to really kind of fall in love with the creativity involved. Not just with the cosmetic surgery but also on the reconstructive aspect. Each problem had a unique solution. At the same time as you are able to come up with your unique solution, there are other options. You just kind of have to figure out a way that best suits the patient’s specific problem and use your skill set, which has become pretty broad, to then bring a solution to that problem.
What was your favorite clinical research project?
That is a great question. So the research that I did or that I have done actually both translate from bench research to clinical research. Specifically, my favorite clinical research project was recently published in the Aesthetic Journal, which was really nice as well. Essentially what it is, is a description of a new technique for labiaplasty. It is essentially a posterior wedge technique which we have kind of utilized and introduced to the field as an alternative to the more common techniques for labiaplasty.
A secret ingredient to success is offering value. What do your patients value most about your practice?
It is a great question. I would say that in addition to offering expert knowledge in all of cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery, the thing I can offer most to my patients is availability. All my patients have my cell phone number and they could get hold of me any time of day or night, just as easily as anybody else in my life. They know that they are really part of my family, part of Tutela Plastic Surgery. They are comforted knowing that they are going through surgery with me and that they are not alone. That at any time if they have any question at all, from something as simple as how to do their post-operative dressing care or if they forgot whether I said they can shower right away or wait a few days more, feeling if anything else arises, an incision looks red or they have a particular question about the way something is looking, they can give me a call or shoot a text. I am available to them 24 hours a day. So I think that they are very comforted in that. It is something that I have gotten responses back from them saying that I am the only doctor they know that does that, and that they feel very comfortable with me because of that. They are anxious to send their family and friends to kind of become part of my practice and part of my family.
What should all patients know before a plastic surgery?
It is another great question. I think one of the most important things we can do as practitioners is really get to know our patients really well, and see what their goals actually are instead of trying to impress upon them what our goals are or what we can do. Thinking of those two things together, the most important thing you can do or to know ahead of time is to be able to manage your patients’ expectations. So they should know before they get started, which usually happens during the consultation, what are the limitations to the procedure that they are looking for, and what are the side effects or risks that come with that, and what are the things that are possible. I think that is probably one of the most important things to know as you embark upon your plastic surgery journey. It is really important that your physician is the one who kind of helps set those goals with you and manage expectations.
Do you plan to take your practice to the next level? Or rather what are your future plans?
Well I actually just opened up a brand new office in Livingston, NJ and I am continuing to see patients in New York City near Columbus Circle. I think I would say my plans for the future are really to start encompassing more non-operative treatments including laser treatment, and more non-surgical facial rejuvenation. I think it is a good way to get more people involved in plastic surgery and get more people who are not quite ready for surgery to start looking their best. And what is nice about the new office is it is a brand new space, it is a new build and everybody loves to come and visit and say hello even if they are not coming in for an appointment. So I think the availability in multiple locations, enabling more patients access to your care, is more important and I am doing that.
You have a very interesting family. Tell us about your family.
As you mentioned earlier on, I am part of a third generation of physicians which started with my grandfather, Arthur Tutela, who was a general practitioner. Back in the day when he was practicing, that is when general practitioners also still operated, he would do appendectomies and forceps deliveries. He was also very much a surgeon. My father after him, Rocco Tutela, was a plastic surgeon and he very much was a big inspiration to me throughout my entire life, both as a man and as a physician. His focus always impressed upon us was the importance of family, and we always made sure that we had dinner together every night. On Sundays we would have the extended family over in the early afternoon for a big dinner. Family values were always reinforced, that we are always there for each other and we really are. That is something that I have been able to translate into my practice and make my patients feel like they are part of that family. I have always felt blessed that my family have always really been my best friends in my life, and all my friends have really also felt like part of my family. So that was an easy transition to bring my practice in that direction. Then comes third generation which is myself, as you know, and my two older brothers Arthur Tutela, who is an ophthalmologist and ocular surgeon, and Rocco Tutela, who is a general surgeon, and we all live nearby. We are always talking about patients even when we are not at work, in general. Just the patient experience and patient care, new technologies on the forefront of medicine, and how to optimize the patient experience. It has been really nice and I think it is part of my practice that is palpable to my patients and they really like that. Then of course comes my immediate family, my wife Nicole and a young daughter who is three years old, Lucy Tutela, and another one on the way in October. Another little girl, so we are still expanding. It is wonderful to be able to be so close to so many people and have such a great support structure. My two sisters, as well, who are not in the medical field but also have their doctorates. Christie Tutela, who is a lawyer by degree, works in administration at NYU. And my other sister Joelle, who has her PhD and she is at William Patterson University as an administrator. It is really great to experience having such great people around me both as an inspiration and as a support structure. So I really feel blessed for that.