Going With Your Heart and Gut: ESANA Surgeons Celebrate 10 Year Anniversary
For the last 10 years, patients of all ages, referred by friends, neighbors, and relatives, have made New Haven’s ESANA Plastic Surgery Center and Medspa a resounding success. The practice is led by surgeons Dr. Deborah Pan and Dr. Javier Davila, friends who met during their surgical training 19 years ago. Together, they have built a practice that offers the full panoply of cosmetic services in an environment that reflects their personal vision—making the patient comfortable from the second they walk in the door, effective communication with patients so their goals and desires are truly met, then achieving results that bring patients back, often at every stage of life.
The partners’ personal vision developed early in their careers. “During medical school, I was intrigued by the opportunity to affect the quality of life quickly for cancer patients, individuals with birth defects, and trauma,” says Dr. Pan. “The cosmetic realm was not initially my driving force.” She felt a special commitment to serving women with cancer who required breast surgery and reconstruction because “both my mother and mother-in-law are breast cancer survivors,” says Dr. Pan. Dr. Davila started in general surgery but became intrigued with plastic surgery after medical school. “The ability to reverse aging and improve someone’s appearance really resonated,” he explains.
Starting the partnership
After Dr. Pan graduated, she joined a group practice. When an opportunity emerged to start a new office three years later, Dr. Pan was ready to spearhead her own business. By then, Dr. Davila had finished his residency and started early practice with another group, and was available to join Dr. Pan as a partner. “I had many fears at the beginning and worried about not being financially successful,” says Dr. Pan. “Being responsible for your own business is very different than being an employee with a regular paycheck.”
But early on, the new partners found the key to success–“We hired the right employees, structured the work flow to achieve high quality patient experiences, then layered on aesthetic services,” says Dr. Pan. With enthusiastic referrals, the practice quickly grew and exceeded her initial expectations. Her motto through the challenges of the first two years? “If you go with your heart and gut, things will turn out alright.”
Now, 10 years down the road, both surgeons have found a niche that works. While both partners are committed to providing a full range of surgical and cosmetic services, Dr. Pan continues her focus on breast surgeries, abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” procedures, as well as anti-aging facial procedures. Dr. Davila has tailored his practice to focus on office procedures as well as surgery. “I enjoy the social aspects of doing facial aesthetic procedures—and conversing with patients,” he says. “I really listen to my patients—not just what they’re saying, but what’s going on in their minds, so I understand what they really want.” Part of every conversation is educating patients about their procedures and the benefits of working with a qualified practitioner. Says Dr. Davila, “Each patient leaves the office knowing exactly what they are getting.”
According to Dr. Pan, redirecting the patient is sometimes part of the education process. “I’m very adept at saying ‘no,’” she jokes. For example, a patient may come in wanting CoolSculpting for fat reduction around her waist. However, during the consult, Dr. Pan explains that this procedure may leave loose skin, a result the patient hadn’t considered. Once the patient understands all of the available procedures and the results she can realistically expect, she may choose to have a tummy tuck and liposuction—with results that leave her satisfied and happy—with her new slimmer figure and the practice. Dr. Pan emphasizes, “I won’t do a procedure that will fall short of meeting the patient’s expectations–and mine.”
Both Drs. Pan and Davila take their role in reviewing and evaluating the myriad of new technological advances very seriously. According to Dr. Pan, plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures are a “fast paced growth industry.” New procedures and devices offer patients less invasive procedures to preserve youth. “We filter out all of the noise for our patients,” says Dr. Pan. “Our role as physicians and scientists is to sift through the new technologies, devices, and procedures and review the data to determine which new products and services really are effective and which ones are just ‘too good to be true.’ Our patients know we only provide services we believe in. This builds patient trust.”
In summarizing new trends in the industry, Dr. Davila explains that patients now are more proactive in preventing aging in the first place, rather than waiting until later in life to have corrective procedures. “Patients in their 30s and even their 20s are paying attention to the aging process,” says Dr. Davila. Patients are seeking good skin care, chemical peels, Botox, fillers, and Ultherapy to retain a natural, youthful look, he explains. This trend is reflected in the full “tool box” of services available at ESANA, from the popular ESANA Signature Line of skin care products to a full range of cosmetic and surgical services.
Dr. Davila notes another trend at ESANA—10-15% of his patients are men. Popular procedures for men include Botox, filler injections, and CoolSculpting. “Men prefer procedures that are more discreet, with less down time,” he explains.
A 10-year history of building trust
With the wide range of services available, excellent results, and a 10-year history of building trust, patients come back—and tell their friends, family members, and social media about their procedures. “In the old days, plastic surgery practices had private entrances and exits. Nobody talked about what they had done,” says Dr. Pan. “I find all of my newer clients discuss their procedures with their girlfriends and family—they view their procedures like getting a hair cut.” Subsequently, referrals from pleased customers have become the heart of their business.
Drs. Pan and Davila also work—and fix—patients who had procedures out of the country. “We find poor scarring and sometimes delayed infection,” says Dr. Davila, stressing that patients are much better off with a trusted practitioner who also provides follow-up care.
To keep satisfied customers requires a pleasant, knowledgeable, and highly competent staff, says Dr. Pan. “Our staff provide the initial patient experience. They have to be able to understand the technical aspects of what we do to answer patient questions. We want everyone to feel comfortable the second they walk in the door.” She and Dr. Davila explain that ESANA is fortunate to have staff who are happy to help patients and have a real enthusiasm for their day-to-day tasks. “We have very little turnover,” she explains. “Our office manager Michelle and nurse Stephanie have been with us since the first day, while Susan, Natasha, Laura, and Vickie have been with us for years. This past year, Dr. Pan was pleased to add a Gabrielle, a physician assistant, to her staff.
Dr. Davila adds, “It’s made a huge difference in our practice that everyone works well together—that keeps things running smoothly.” According to Dr. Davila, the harmonious vibe is strengthened by his 19-year friendship with Deborah Pan. Dr. Pan agrees and jokes with her husband that Dr. Davila is her “work” husband. “We communicate well and understand give and take,” says Dr. Pan, all the traits that make this 10-year “marriage” a success.
As they contemplate the achievements of the last 10 years, both Drs. Pan and Davila have been able to tailor the business to fit their personalities. Dr. Pan has found a balance between work and family life and is gratified to have built a practice that melds high quality services with an environment that makes patients feel comfortable and satisfied. Dr. Davila enjoys doing facial aesthetics and building a practice based on social interactions that engender faith in his skills and trust in the outcome. With satisfied patients returning year after year, “It doesn’t feel like work,” he explains, with a smile in his voice. “I find my day-to-day practice more pleasurable than it was 10 years ago.”
Looking to the future, the ESANA surgeons plan to expand their reach in the Northeast. Already patients from as far away as upstate New York, Manhattan, and Boston seek services at the ESANA Plastic Surgery Center & Medspa. “There are no barriers,” says Dr. Davila. Dr. Pan concludes, “We simply want to be known as the best place to go.”