Plastic surgery question? There’s now an app for that

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (WRIC) — Brandy Tallaksen’s plastic surgery journey began last year when she was living in Europe.

“Northern Italy, up near the Dolomites, in the mountains,” she describes.

Her husband’s job was bringing them back to Virginia, just in time for her first fitness competition. Tallaksen wanted to look her best, so she recorded a video explaining the results she hoped to get.

“I’m most interested in getting Botox,” she says in the video, pointing to an area on her forehead.

She uploaded the video to a new app called Zwivel and connected with Richmond Aesthetic Surgery in Midlothian, which was 4,500 miles away from where she was living at the time.

tallaksen
Brandy Tallaksen

“Zwivel has sort of become the Uber of plastic surgery,” Dr. Neil Zemmel of Richmond Aesthetic Surgery explains.

He says Zwivel makes it possible for patients to reach dozens of surgeons in their desired city, state or region all at once. They can ask about procedures, prices and recovery time, and find the right doctor without ever leaving their home. His office now does five to ten of these pre-consultations a day, then books a traditional one in-person with interested patients.

Jeanne Fields found Dr. Zemmel through Zwivel last year. “Once you’re comfortable responding to that person on the other end, you know exactly what you’re walking into.”

Adds Tallaksen, “It’s kind of private, you know, to most people and to be abe to do the consultation online without actually having to come to the office was a very significant reason why I went with that route.”

Tallaksen did her first Zwivel consultation with Richmond Aesthetic Surgery before she even left Italy. As busy as she was prepping for the move and fitness competition, she liked that she did not need an appointment. Tallaksen could log on when she had time.

“In today’s mobile world, this is critical. This is really the wave of the future,” says Dr. Zemmel.

Apps are becoming such a big part of healthcare that the VCU School of Medicine spends classroom time teaching doctors-to-be how to use them in their practices.

“It’s pretty neat, and it’s about to get much, much bigger in the next five years, I’d say,” estimates Dr. Colin Banas, an internal medicine physician and the VCU Health chief medical information officer. “The new generation of learners is almost expecting it or mandating it if you will.”

That means this new generation of patients has more options. Tallaksen is glad she found Zwivel and knows it, along with hard work at the gym, helped get her on the path to success at the fitness competition.

“I came in third, I’m very proud of that,” she says with a smile.

Early on, it may feel different to communicate online, but Dr. Banas says in this digital world, apps can enhance the physician-patient relationship because they are so convenient. Before using any healthcare app, make sure the data is secure and, like Zwivel, that it is HIPAA-compliant so personal medical information is protected.

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