Dr. Rudolf Thompson is a board certified plastic surgeon and founder of the Thompson Center for Plastic Surgery in Colts Neck, NJ. With a constant focus on patient education and safety, Dr. Thompson performs procedures ranging from breast augmentation, reduction and reconstruction, to body contouring and facial rejuvenation, to non-surgical treatments like Botox, SmartLipo and Hydrafacials. Dr. Thompson believes nothing is more beautiful than confidence. His goal is to help his patients feel better about themselves, whether they’re in the boardroom, on the beach or at their child’s soccer game. Dr. Thompson is board certified by the American Board of Surgery and by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Interview With Dr. Rudolf Thompson
Question: You launched your practice in 2009 when we were waist deep in a recession. How did you manage to grow your business in such a challenging economic climate?
I tried to not focus on one single specialty in plastic surgery. I tried to be a true doctor. In other words, I built a practice based on the understanding that I was available for patients for both reconstructive and cosmetic procedures. I took on patients who may have been considered difficult cases, who other surgeons weren’t willing to take on, and I think a lot of hard work and extra call hours in the emergency room showed that I was dedicated. People remember that I was always there for them.
When we launched our practice, I was leaving another practice where I had been for approximately nine years. I was fortunate enough to have an established patient base, many whom followed me, so that definitely helped. My wife, Sharon, did a wonderful job assembling our office staff, and people who visit our practice feel at home. They don’t feel like a number or a statistic.
I spend a lot of time with patients, and some say I spend as much time with them as their primary care physician. I think we succeeded in growing the practice by being there for patients, doing the right thing, focusing on patient safety, and showing them that we were driven by a desire to do what’s best for them.
Question: What is the biggest misconception that people have about plastic surgery?
Most of what people see and hear about plastic surgery on TV isn’t real. It’s sensationalized. Sometimes plastic surgery is portrayed as quick and easy. People think it’s fine to do five or six surgeries at once, expect a smooth recovery and go right back to work. Patients get a lot of bad information from television and, quite frankly, from patients of non-certified plastic surgeons on social media and other places on the internet.
My biggest job from the outset is to educate. When a patient comes in for a cosmetic consultation, I take a complete history, find out their motivations and expectations, and make sure they have an understanding of what they’re getting into. For example, smoking is dangerous if you’re considering cosmetic surgery, and sometimes a person’s body type isn’t right for the type of procedure they want.
Safety always trumps financial gain and even the patient’s desires. It all starts with thinking about the whole patient, their lifestyle and their medical history, and then educating the patient. I actually turn a lot of patients away, not for my sake, but for their own safety.
Question: You’re very active on Facebook and Twitter with more than 2,000 combined fans and followers. How are you using social media to grow your practice?
To Sharon’s credit, as the doors were swinging open to our practice, she was right there, front and center, on Facebook and Twitter, before any other plastic surgeons in our area. Having a skilled social media manager in your practice is not a bonus. It’s a necessity. When people want information, they’re going online, finding out about other people’s experiences on social media. It allows us to share valuable information about things like recovery times, what to expect after treatment, or if a certain type of treatment isn’t right for you, what might be better alternative.
It also allows us to warn people about something they see on TV that they should watch out for. I know what’s new out there, what’s cutting edge, and social media offers a great way to share information. There are a lot of non-certified surgeons performing unsafe procedures, so I always encourage people to speak with me first before they decide to move forward with something they see on TV. I think it’s my responsibility to put proven science ahead of the hype and educate people.
Question: You’ve also had success with traditional advertising and hosting educational events about specific types of procedures. How does the Thompson Center for Plastic Surgery integrate different types of marketing?
Our in-office seminars are more important than ever. We send out announcements through social media and email, invite people to come to our practice, and it becomes more of an educational session than a marketing vehicle. This gives us the opportunity to sit down with patients one-on-one or conduct a group consultation. When they become educated, they can pay it forward and educate their friends.
We present real before-and-after photos and bring in real patients to share their experiences. We might bring in a mom whose pregnancies may have taken a toll on her body. She can tell people about her “mommy makeover” face-to-face and through social media, how we not only helped her regain her pre-pregnancy shape, but just as importantly, we helped her feel more confident.
Aside from growing the practice, our marketing has two goals – educate our patients, and most importantly, keep people safe.
Question: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What can you do to help women affected by breast cancer?
Number one is education with a capital “E.” If I have a patient with cancer, they’re often very distraught and scared about their diagnosis. I give them an honest rundown of what they should expect. I’m a board certified general surgeon as well as a plastic surgeon, so I’m qualified to talk about what they should expect from their general surgeon, and when I come into the picture. We discuss things like proper nutrition, blood work, chemotherapy and what they should look for post-operatively with self-exams.
Reconstructive surgery after breast cancer is a very long process. It involves building the breast through multiple surgeries, and patients really need a lot of emotional support. They’re basically dealing with the amputation of a sacred organ in their body. A cancer patient will become my patient for the rest of their lives. I encourage patients to get involved with various events and fundraisers to help others who might be dealing with breast cancer, and I’m happy to facilitate local support groups.
With my non-cancer patients, they need to know that having a breast-related procedure doesn’t make them immune. I strongly encourage them to keep getting yearly mammograms, regular checkups with their Ob/Gyn and primary care doctor even if they don’t have a history, but especially if they do. Our mission is always focused on education, support and safety.
Visit the Thompson Plastic Surgery website and Facebook page.
Join the discussion 12 Comments
Love hearing about/reading actual biz case studies, especially from a wide variety of types of businesses. Service-based businesses are especially ripe, I think, for a little mini-revolution in the way they market themselves. Love to see professionals who actually get it!
Totally agree. I’d much rather see how actual businesses are implementing and succeeding. The Thompson Center was an early adopter of social media and it’s really paying off because they’re using the right mix of education and offers.
Thank you Carol Lynn for this great guest post. Scott, you have done a wonderful job using this case study. I can never understand why more professionals are not on the social media platform. It is all about Education – with that capitol E!
Here, you show one of the most popular businesses – Plastic Surgery! How wonderful Dr. Thomson educates people on this particular subject. It gives him credibility and makes him stand out from the rest. Here he mentions that people think it is a quick fix method. And it is not. My husband worked for a malpractice attorney a few years back. There were more horror stories for elective surgery than one might think.
Scott, your philosophy is on target: build a target audience how your product can solve a real problem. That is all people have to do!
I thank you all, Donna
Those horror stories are scary, right? Not only is Dr. Thompson using social media to educate, he’s using it to overcome obstacles and misconceptions that people have about plastic surgery, which is something I wrote about recently. I always say that it’s not rocket science. Effective marketing solves problems, whether it’s on Facebook or in the local newspaper.
Hey Scott, great post. Carol you were nice to post this for your friend. Plastic surgery has always sounded way to serious for me. It sure would have to be a really very important for me to even consider. If I did ever consider such a procedure I sure would call Scott tho, as he comes across as being very honest and caring. Thanks for sharing this post.
Thanks for the kind words. I think people are starting to realize that plastic surgery isn’t just about Hollywood stars clinging to their youth. It’s for real people – people who have lost a lot of weight, breast cancer survivors, people injured in accidents – real people who just want to feel better about themselves. For Dr. Thompson, it’s less about looking a certain way and more about feeling a certain way.
Wow, this is a doctor I would certainly trust for a procedure. Not that I need one yet 🙂 But, yes, I love his honesty and the fact that he is not in for the big buck but telling people what they might not want to hear.
Great interview of a high level professional. You people have serious connections here 🙂
I would rather have a client be mad at me for an hour or a day for telling them something they don’t want to hear because I think they’ll eventually respect me in the long run. If not, I don’t want that person as a client.
As for the connections, I have to say that Dr. Thompson and his wife, Sharon, are two of the most down-to-earth people you’d ever meet, which made my job much easier.
Hi Carol and Scott
A great post and I like Dr Thompson’s approach and attitude. Of course plastic surgery needs Education so social media is a great avenue for that.
I think it is really important to be honest and educate people. Too many doctors in the past have not done that.
Thanks for the education.
You would think any kind of medical professional would be all over Facebook and Twitter, right? I guess there are probably industry regulations, but that hasn’t stopped Dr. Thompson’s team for using social media effectively.
What a great post Scott, thanks for interviewing the doctor.
I’ve had cosmetic surgery in the past and when choosing my doctor I definitely listened to some friends of mine in the medical profession before trusting this delicate procedure with just anyone. I don’t regret it either and would do it again in a heartbeat if needed.
Dr. Thompson sounds like he really cares about his patients as well as informing them of certain surgeries you should have or aren’t best for you. I know a lot of the ones they show on TV are so hyped up but would scare the heck out of me.
Great interview Scott and thanks for sharing this with us. If I ever needed anything like this again I would definitely consider a doctor like Dr. Thompson. Too bad he’s not near me.
What you see on TV isn’t always reality – shocking, right? It’s a little frightening that non-certified plastic surgeons are out there performing procedures on uninformed patients. It’s great that doctors like Dr. Thompson are educating people, but it’s also up to us as responsible individuals to do our homework.